Stuck in Love Movie Review
Far too tidy to be believable, this multi-strand romance holds our attention with a warmly comical tone and a watchable cast. But it's only entertaining as a bit of escapism, because the various relational entanglements are far too contrived for us to identify with them. A looser, messier approach would have made it a lot more involving.
The action takes place over the course of a year. Bill (Kinnear) is a noted novelist who stopped writing when his marriage to Erica (Connelly) ended. Even though she's now married to a fitness instructor (Joiner), Bill is waiting for her to come back to him. Although he's engaging in a mindless fling with a married neighbour (Bell) in the mean time. Bill and Erica's daughter Samantha (Collins) has just published her first novel, but has sworn off romance. Then she meets the persistent nice-guy Lou (Lerman). Meanwhile, her teen brother Rusty (Wolff) is finally working up the nerve to speak to his crush Kate (Liberato), who has both a cocaine problem and a bully (Schwarzenegger) of a boyfriend.
Writer-director Boone lets each character introduce themselves with the first line from the book of their life, and the litrary theme continues in almost every scene as they continually discuss their writings and their favourite books. Very quickly, this begins to get on our nerves, as if Boone is reminding us that nothing we're watching is actually happening: it's carefully orchestrated fiction that draws on real-life emotions to tell a series of implausible love stories. Aside from Kinnear and Connelly, who are strong enough actors to convince us of almost anything, none of the interaction feels remotely realistic.
We certainly never believe that spiky Samantha would fall for dull Lou, or that smart Rusty would waste his time with loser Kate, even if it's just to gather some life experience for his impending career as, yes, a writer. That said, there are occasional moments of warmth and insight, nicely performed by actors who get under the skin of their characters. And the gently observational style keeps us engaged. But in the end, it feels so concocted that it's hard to care.