out of Five
Running time: 97
Enjoyable and engaging relationship comedy drama enlivened by likeable performances, a strong script and some appealing location work, though it's also a little too pretentious for its own good in places.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Josh Boone, Stuck In Love stars Greg Kinnear as novelist Bill Borgens, who's struggling to get over his recent divorce, made worse by the fact that his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly) is moving on with new husband Glen.
At the same time, their children are dealing with romantic complications of their own: cynical college-age daughter Samantha (Lily Collins), who hasn't spoken to Erica in a year, has her first book published and finds herself pursued by college classmate Lou (Logan Lerman), while high school student and aspiring author Rusty (Nat Wolff) falls for a troubled girl at school (Liana Liberato) after being advised by his father to get some life experience in order to improve his writing.
The performances are excellent: Kinnear is likeable enough so that we excuse his essential stalking of Erica (he's first glimpsed peering into her window as she argues with Glen), while Collins gives a pleasingly spiky performance that gradually softens as she falls for Lerman's character. Similarly, Wolff is engaging as a teenager who may have gotten in too deep with his first love and there's strong support from both Liberato (who has good chemistry with Wolff) and Kristen Bell as a sporty, married neighbour who has a sexual arrangement with Bill. In addition, Connelly is heart-breaking as Erica, who's devastated at the ‘loss’ of her daughter and all praise is due to the casting agent, since Connelly and Collins sport a thick set of matching mother-daughter eyebrows.
The warm-hearted script (loosely based on Boone's own family background) is packed with witty dialogue and the family interactions are genuinely believable. It's also nicely shot throughout with acclaimed cinematographer Tim Orr making strong use of the appealing coastal locations (the Borgens live in a beach house).
The main problem with the film is that it's frequently a little too pretentious for its own good, with the highly literate characters constantly throwing their favourite book titles at each other and the film wrongly assuming that the majority of those titles will mean the same thing to the audience that they do to the scriptwriter/characters. This reaches a low point when one of the much-touted favourite authors makes a cameo-by-phone that's extremely cringeworthy and should probably have been dropped.
Quibbles about pretentiousness aside, Stuck In Love is an enjoyable and emotionally engaging relationship drama with likeable performances and a witty script. Recommended.