Stuck Movie Review
Take Tom (Stephen Rea, channeling Norman Wisdom through a manic depressive sheen). Tom has had a bad day. Thrown out of his fleabag apartment, he hopes to wrangle a job at the unemployment office but due to a computer error, his name doesn't appear in the computer, so he is forced to roam the streets as a homeless man. When he falls asleep on a park bench, a cop wakes him up and tells him to move on. As he pushes a shopping cart in front of him, he runs into Brandi (Mena Suvari). Or more to the point, Brandi runs into him. She is returning from a club in a drug-induced haze, happy that by working on her day off for her harpy boss at the depressing retirement home she will get a promotion from her deadening job as an attendant. But calling her lunkhead boyfriend Rashid (Russell Hornsby) on her cell phone on her drive home, she neglects to look at the road and smacks into the hapless Tom, who becomes stuck in the glass windshield of the car, bleeding to death. Rather than stop her vehicle and come to Tom's assistance, she drives onward home, parking her car in her garage and hoping Tom gives up the ghost during the night so that Brandi can ditch the body and not mess up her chances at a promotion when she goes in to work the next morning. The only glitch is that Tom refuses to die.
Gordon (in what may be his best film since his ineffable Re-Animator) raises his scythe high in this psychotronic version of High Noon and plays out his tale unflinching and unblinking. Gordon depicts a bleak, self-serving, and unscrupulous society of ordinary citizens who all have agendas, taking their soulless cues from the government and laying low. In Stuck, people are uncaring and forever glued to computer screens, cell phones, sex, and drugs and blank over at cries for help. Tom desperately begs for help but fails at every turn. Brandi and Rashid have a wild night of sexual abandon while Tom languishes in Brandi's garage. Brandi's next-door neighbors won't help Tom because they are afraid of being deported as illegal aliens. The voice on 911 won't do anything and hangs up on Tom (Rea babbling for help to the dispatcher in a sick version of Jerry Lewis shtick). Brandi won't extricate Tom because she cries that "It is not my fault" before smacking him in the head with a chunk of lumber. Meanwhile, in the streets, tucked away in dark corners with the neon lights cooking their features, is the homeless flotsam of the screwed, all trying to survive their back-stabbings. As Rashid remarks to Brandi as they discuss the morality of getting rid of Tom's body, "Nobody gives a shit. No big deal. Anybody can do anything to anyone and get away with it. I mean, look who's in the White House right now."
In Gordon's low budget chamber of horrors piece, the actors take up the challenge and deliver their best work in years. Rea is appropriately sad-eyed and sympathetic --emotions difficult to communicate when you spend your performance bathed in blood, marked with contusions and lacerations, and your head sticking through the glass shards of a windshield. Suvari (actually emoting for the first time since American Beauty) conveys the pain of rabid, unvarnished selfishness, while Hornsby is appropriately sex machine and idiot all rolled into one.
Stuck, a prime example of termite art, will no doubt get buried in the summer onslaught of Carrie Bradshaw and friends, Zohan, Indiana Jones, Batman, and Hellboy, but if this were a just world Gordon's small masterwork of angst would be widely seen and praised rather than smashed through the windshield of multinational mega-media conglomerates. One can only cross one's fingers and hope it isn't so.
Who's gonna drive you home tonight?