STUCK IN LOVE aka WRITERS (2013)
Running Time: 97 mins. Rating: x Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Josh Boone
Distributor: Millennium Entertainment
Cast: Kristen Bell, Logan Lerman, Lily Collins, Jennifer Connelly, Stephen King, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Nat Wolff, Greg Kinnear, Spencer Breslin, Liana Liberato, Katie Garfield
Lily Collins as Samantha is the most interesting character in this family comedy-drama, partly because she looks like a beautiful, young version of Jennifer Connelly, in part because of her independent and cynical spirit, and most of all because she represents the college hook-up culture gone to an extreme. Her views on life may come from her being in a family of writers—her dad, Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear), is a well-known novelist, and her younger brother in high school writes poetry and is about to get his first story published. STUCK IN LOVE opens as a sitcom of that celebrated subgenre of movies, the dysfunctional family, but as it develops, bringing in several different relationships, it emerges as a work whose literary values cannot be dismissed.
Demonstrating an ability to evoke tentative outlooks on relationships, writer-director Josh Boone in his freshman movie posits a middle-age hookup, so to speak, as novelist Bill carries on a friendship with benefits with the free-spirited neighbor Tricia (Kristen Bell), a woman who makes no demands on the fellow (except that he should be ready for her during appointments which she makes with him) and who actually tries to get the divorced writer into the dating scene. If that entente cordiale is a firm one, Bill’s feelings for ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly), who ran out on him for a younger man is tentative, but a situation that leads to a frosty feeling toward her from her independent daughter.
The inexperienced nerdish Rusty (Nat Wolff), Bill’s son who, though only in high school, disappoints his dad because he is not accumulating experiences that could be called upon for his future novels, does discover the joy of sex with the more experienced Kate (Liana Liberato), who is unfortunately alcoholic and drug-addicted. As Samantha is getting her first book published making the envy of the rest of her class in Advanced Fiction Writing, she is worried that her icy self is melting for Lou (Logan Lerman), who has been chasing her despite being told by Samantha that he has no chance. Persistence pays!
The most romantic moment in the story is the scene in Lou’s car where he plays his favorite song on the radio, the close-eyed Samantha realizing at that point that her own heart is melting for this persistent young male.
Performances are professional enough to give the audience the feeling of folks-next-door reality, despite what we might call the elitism of the principal characters. After all, with how many writers on buddy terms with Stephen King (who appears as the voice on the phone) do we have fairly intimate contact? With his round glasses and scruffy beard, Greg Kinnear looks every bit the serious writer who is a genuinely good dad, one whose character, we hope, will find happiness with someone on his wave length, namely his ex-wife Erica. The story is filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, which gives off the feeling of Southern California.
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