I’m always wary of any film where the protagonist is a male writer. I’m doubly wary when thier main love rival is an unthinking jock. These films tend to fall into the trap of navel gazing and of making their leads a little too clever or too sensitive for an audience to relate to.
Stuck in Love has three love stories, in which three different writers try to find love and two of their rivals are jocks. I was not expecting great things. So I was pleasantly surprised when the film did not make me want to rampage through the streets of London fuelled by pure rage. It was, however, still pretty awful.
The film revolves around Bill Borgens (played by Greg Kineer), a world famous author who cannot get past his divorce three years ago and his two children; his daughter, a precocious cynic who has just had her first book published, and his son, another budding writer who is trying to woo one of the cool girls at school. There is some consideration given to the family dynamic as a whole, but for most of the film the script focusses on the type of emoting you would expect from a plot where three of the main characters are writers.
The self-absorbed nature of the writing is best shown by the daughter (played by Lilly Collins) going on and on to her love interest about how she never wants to speak to her mother again, going as far as breaking up with him for inviting her mother to her book launch. This would be fine, if childish, were it not for the fact that her love interests own mother is terminally ill with a brain tumour. I’m sure it’s not just me who finds that massively insensitive, but sadly no-one in the movie ever calls her out for being a solipsistic brat.
By far and away the best character is unfortunately one of the least used: Tricia, played by Kirsten Bell. Tricia is the irrepressible neighbour who appears happy and guilt free about conducting a ‘sex-only’ affair with Bill Borgens. She steals every scene she is in and you are left wishing you could see more of her life rather than being trapped with some mopey writers. Whoever made the trailer apparently agrees with me as she dominates that as well.
Though far from terrible Stuck in Love never breaks free from the chains of a limp script with poor plotting and weak characterisation. The performances are, however, uniformly excellent and help raise the movie from unwatchable to bearable. Would I recommend it? Clearly not, but if pretentious dramedies are your thing then this may be for you.
Actually as I write this I have come to realise that there is another possible reason to watch this film. If you want to impress someone who likes to think of themselves as an intelligent movie watcher but in fact just wants to watch your basic feel-good film then this may help out. It’s also available on Netflix, so shouldn’t set you back if you already have the subscription.
Stuck in Love review
2.5 star. Watchable, just, but even on Netflix UK there are better options.