With a cast full of good actors, and featuring characters that someone who reviews movies would find appealing (four of the six primary characters are writers), it goes without saying that 'Stuck in Love' is a film that I've been waiting to see since I saw it previewed earlier this year on some other Millennium Entertainment releases I've covered. Sadly, despite goodwill heading into my viewing, I have to report that the film turns out to be a big disappointment.
The movie revolves around a writer named William Borgens, who has divorced his wife, Erica (Jennifer Connelly), and spends much of his time pining after her as well as trying to provide both fatherly and professional advice to his two children – Samantha (Lily Collins) and Rusty (Nat Wolff) – both of whom wish to follow in their father's footsteps as writers. In addition to Bill trying to sort out his own relationship issues (or lack of them), each of his two kids find themselves having romance issues of their own, with Sam getting involved with another writer/classmate from her college (played by Percy Jackson himself, Logan Lerman) and Rusty having a crush on his high school friend, Kate (Liana Liberato), who is dealing both with an abusive boyfriend and her own abuse of drugs.
'Stuck in Love' wants to be one of those romantic comedies with enough seriousness about it to provide for some heavier drama during the latter part of the movie. However, its biggest problem lies in the fact that its lead characters are so shallowly self-centered, that most viewers won't care what happens to any one of them.
Let's start with the father, Bill, who we first see sneaking into the yard of his ex-wife, where she lives with her new boyfriend. He presses his nose up against the window to see the couple fighting, and the only thing that prevents him from sticking around to watch the two make out is the family dog spotting him. So viewers' immediate first impression of Bill is as a creepy stalker, and I'm sad to convey that his obsession with his ex doesn't change much during the course of the movie. Without giving too much away, he's essentially the same person by the end of the movie that he is at the beginning, which doesn't bode well for his chances at a future successful relationship.
Even less likeable that Bill is his daughter, Samantha. At the beginning of the movie, she proudly tells her family that her first book is about to be published. What's revealed shortly thereafter is that the book is full of erotica that is based in part off of all the one-night stands Samantha has had over the years. She's not unlucky in love, but rather someone who doesn't want to have any emotional attachment to anyone. In other words, she has just been using people as a method to gather ideas/information for her book.
Bill's son , Rusty, while probably the most likeable member of the Borgens family, is not without issues of his own. He winds up dating his high school crush, and although he knows she has a drug problem, does very little to try to encourage her to stop. In fact, Rusty's own drug issues – although just a fondness for pot – aren’t seen as a problem by anyone else in his family, which makes anything they have to say later in the movie about Rusty's girlfriend's issues rather hypocritical.
The one bright spot in 'Stuck in Love' is the character of Louis, played by Logan Lerman, who is the love interest for Samantha. His character is smart, romantic, funny, and one that viewers should immediately find appealing. We're never quite sure what he sees in Samantha, but it's easy to understand why he's the one that leads her away from her history of one-night stands. For every moment Lerman is on-screen, 'Stuck in Love' is an infinitely better movie and I would much rather have seen a film revolving around his character than one about the Borgens family. In fact, the Louis character and Mr. Lerman's performance are the only reasons I've rated the movie as high as I have.
Finally, those familiar with the theatrical trailer may come to the conclusion that Kristen Bell has a large role in 'Stuck in Love'. She doesn't. She plays a married neighbor of Bill who comes over and uses him for sex. She's in fewer than a handful of scenes, the most entertaining of which is her helping Bill fill out a dating profile on Match.com. Since the gist of that scene is already in the movie's trailer, trust me when I say you've already seen the noteworthy bit of Ms. Bell's performance.
We learn in the extras on this release that 'Stuck in Love' is largely an autobiographical story from Writer/Director Josh Boone, and that may be this movie's biggest problem. What seems personal and moving to him just comes off as self-centered and conceited to the rest of us. I didn't care much about what happened to anyone in 'Stuck in Love', and chances are most other viewers won't either.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Stuck in Love' arrives on Blu-ray in a combo pack that also contains a DVD version of the movie (although no digital copy is provided). The discs are housed in a keepcase, and Millennium continues to be one of the few companies to place the Blu-ray on the inside left instead of the inside right of the case, so be careful you don't accidently put the DVD in your player if you're looking to play the Blu-ray (the disc art is identical, aside from the small Blu-ray and DVD logos on them). Both discs are front-loaded with trailers for The Iceman, What Maisie Knew, Upside Down, Hell Baby, and Home Run.
Although slightly different in appearance, both the Blu-ray and the DVD have a similar menu design, with a montage of footage from the movie playing on the top 3/4ths of the screen, and menu selections along the bottom part. Please note, while the DVD in this set only contains the original theatrical trailer as a bonus, the stand-alone DVD that is available contains all of the bonus features. Therefore, none of the bonus materials listed later in this review are exclusive to the Blu-ray release.
Millennium seems to have a habit of taking films that were shown theatrically at the 2.35:1 ratio and giving them a 1.78:1 ratio on home video. I first noticed this problem when reviewing Killing Season a while back, but thought it might have been exclusive to that release (since it had a very limited theatrical run). However, it happens again here with 'Stuck in Love'. The movie played in theaters at 2.35:1, but gets a 1.78:1 presentation on Blu-ray (and DVD as well). I don't think the difference has a tremendous impact on one's enjoyment of this particular film, but viewers can judge for themselves, as the original theatrical trailer on this release still maintains the original 2.35:1 ratio.
Setting the aspect ratio aside (which did not impact the video score, but is nevertheless worth noting), this is a very colorful, crisp, and detailed transfer. The movie was shot well digitally, so it looks great on Blu-ray. Skin tones are well-balanced, blacks are – for the most part – deep and inky (allowing for good shadow delineation), and the colors really "pop" here without being over-saturated. Also, there are no noticeable issues with aliasing, artifacting, or the like. All in all, a very nice looking video transfer.
While there are no glitches of note on this title's 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track, the fact that the film is dialogue-heavy means that there's nothing noteworthy about the lossless track, either. The movie is full of background songs, but even then the audio doesn't exactly spring to life. While the rear speakers are active throughout the movie (mostly for the songs and original soundtrack), directionality is almost non-existent. Dialogue comes from the front and center, and music is spread across all the speakers – that's pretty much it.
That said, everything seems nicely balanced and the soundtrack music never gets in the way of hearing the dialogue, which for the most part is crisp and clear. In addition to the 5.1 TrueHD track, an English 2.0 Dolby track is also available, as are subtitles in English SDH and Spanish.
Writer/Director Josh Boone's first movie is full of characters we should like, but don't, as almost everyone in the story seems filled with a sense of self-importance and pretentiousness that results in the viewer not caring very much about what happens to them. There's nothing particularly wrong with the cast here, as the leads do their best with the material they've been given. The problem is that, other than an appealing supporting role from Logan Lerman, there's nobody here for the audience to invest in, as almost everyone seems wrapped up in their own shallowness as human beings. I really wanted to like 'Stuck in Love'…so it's a shame so much of this movie felt like it was stuck in reverse. Skip it.