Stuck in Love

| October 6, 2013

A family of writers are all at different points in their respective romantic lives.  William (Greg Kinnear) spies on his ex-wife and her new boyfriend, while his daughter Samantha (Lilly Collins; Mirror Mirror) is at college having a string of disconnected one-night stands, and his son Rusty (Nat Wolff; Admission) is hopelessly in love with his classmate Kate (Liana Liberato).  Thankfully, the movie isn’t three intertwining stories about depressed writers complaining about their love lives; that would get boring real fast.  While the three main characters’ relationships are at the center of the piece, much of the story deals with Samantha’s first book being published.  This causes a jealous divide between her and her brother, and her father is only excited until he finds out that the book in question is not the one he helped her edit and rewrite.

I really enjoyed Stuck in Love while I was watching it.  It was funny and smart and charming, but now that I’m thinking about it little things do stand out to me as unrealistic.  Samantha’s being so jaded about relationships is justified by things she experienced as a child, but it’s odd to me now looking back exactly how put together she is while accepting that all relationships are doomed.  This does lead to my favorite relationship in the film, between Samantha and Louis (Logan Lerman; The Perks of Being a Wallflower), who is a really well-written and witty character, who quickly sees through Samantha’s tough girl façade.  It’s also a bit unbelievable to me that the book Samantha is getting published is something she wrote over a summer, and did not use her father’s name to help get her foot in the door.  Maybe there are cases out there where really young writers catch lightning in a bottle and get full-length novels published after throwing it together in a few months, but I’d bet it’s extremely rare.

Rusty’s relationship with Kate feels reminiscent of every high school romance, but again there are things about it that feel too unbelievable.  Her drug addiction for example was like something you’d see in a movie about a life-long cocaine user trying to get her life on track but ultimately failing at every turn.  You could maybe justify her “drug problem” as a need for attention after her popularity takes a hit at school when she dumps the popular jock character for the nerdy writer character.  But that’s mostly me struggling to come up with a reason than the film actually establishing one.

I do like all of the performances here, especially Greg Kinnear who over the course of the year the film takes place in keeps insisting that his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly) will come back to him.  He’s made a promise to wait for her, but has been sleeping with the young married woman down the beach (Kristen Bell) to pass the time.  This doesn’t endear the character to me at all, but it does make him feel more realistic than the others, and I can at least see why he does everything he does.

The ending was predictable and unsatisfying, but overall I did really enjoy this movie.  It never felt pretentious or tedious.  It’s a nice little character-driven dramedy, and maybe my favorite thing about it is that there is very little conflict surrounding these people as writers, which I’ve said many times is a very boring way to approach a film.

Special Features include the director’s commentary and a behind the scenes featurette.  Available on Blu-ray and DVD from Millennium Entertainment on October 8

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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