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Stuck in Love: Blu-ray + DVD Review

Stuck in Love (2013) movie poster Stuck in Love

Theatrical Release: July 5, 2013 / Running Time: 97 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Josh Boone

Cast: Greg Kinnear (Bill Borgens), Jennifer Connelly (Erica), Lily Collins (Samantha Borgens), Nat Wolff (Rusty Borgens), Kristen Bell (Tricia Wolcott), Logan Lerman (Louis Murphy), Liana Liberato (Kate), Michael Goodwin (Professor Abbott), Stephen King (voice of Stephen King), Rusty Joiner (Marty), Patrick Schwarzenegger (Glen), David Morris (Rodney), Barbara Weetman (Diane), Alexandria Lauren Ter Avest (Becky), Zeeko Zaki (Gus), Nate Panning (Bartender), Katie Garfield (Hot Girl), Spencer Breslin (Jason)

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Writer/director Josh Boone has attracted a distinguished cast in his debut film, Stuck in Love, an indie dramedy that explores the love lives of a fractured family of four.

Two years ago, novelist Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear) had his wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly) leave him. Since then, he's struggled professionally and remains convinced she'll return, even though she's remarried, something Bill knows because he has a tendency to peer into his ex's house and observe her new life at night.

Father (Greg Kinnear) and daughter (Lily Collins) have a chat on the beach in "Stuck in Love."

Bill has reared the couple's two teenaged children as writers, allowing them not to bother with menial jobs as long as they maintain a daily journal. That upbringing has paid off for Samantha (Lily Collins), who is getting her first novel published at age 19 and without dropping her father's name or submitting the story he's helped her shape. Cynical and promiscuous, Samantha isn't talking to her mother and refuses to buy into the notion of love, preferring one-night stands with strangers. Challenging her value system is Lou (Logan Lerman), a classmate who wants to have a normal relationship with talk and emotions.

Samantha's brother, high school student Rusty (Nat Wolff), is also a romantic and the poem he reluctantly recites in class helps him win the affections of Kate (Liana Liberato), his crush. Meanwhile, though holding hope for a reunion and continuing to set a place for Erica at the table for Thanksgiving, Bill also regularly sees Tricia Wolcott (Kristen Bell), a younger, married neighbor who jogs over for a quick hour of love-making.

Shy teenager Rusty (Nat Wolff) catches the attention of his crush with a poem that's not so secretly about her. "Percy Jackson" star Logan Lerman plays Lou Murphy, a nice guy who tries to open Samantha's mind to human emotion and traditional romance.

Stuck in Love feels like the work of someone who's been told they're a genius enough times to believe it.
It's no small feat to assemble a cast that includes an Academy Award winner, a nominee, rising young stars, and the voice of Stephen King with no prior film credits whatsoever. How Boone, now 34, did it is unclear, even from his official bio, which mentions making movies with friends as a child and working as an evidently uncredited production assistant on unspecified films. Here, he's fast-forwarded to a position of creative power that eludes many more seasoned vets.

As a result, the film's successes and failings rest heavily on the shoulders of Boone, who does a poor job of proving he deserves this opportunity. The literary references, recreational drug use, and unnatural profanity that pepper the film are a flimsy way to add weight and to divert attention away from the weak main course of contrived and stupid exchanges.

As Boone's script is described as "highly autobiographical", one feels sorry that his life could be populated with people remotely resembling these noxious characters. The female roles are especially grating, and unknowingly so. Collins' smug overachiever is one of the more loathsome lead personalities encountered in some time, a fact that the film and Collins (whose resemblance to Connelly is the best explanation for her casting) remain oblivious to. Kinnear effortlessly generates his usual sympathy, even if his uncharacteristic trysts seem borrowed from a different comedy, the kind where a montage of trying on different outfits to wear for an online dating profile photo isn't quite as random and dumb. But the only likable character is played by Lerman, who seems to channel the nice guy vibe of his Perks of Being a Wallflower teacher Paul Rudd, as his altruism is wasted on the object of his affections.

Though easy to watch, Stuck in Love is almost impossible to like, as it moves to a destination foreshadowed by the redeemability and visibility it afford73 characters.

Following a lifeless showing in 21 theaters over the summer, Stuck in Love hits DVD and the Blu-ray + DVD combo pack reviewed here on Tuesday from Millennium Entertainment.

Stuck in Love: Blu-ray Disc + DVD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.78.1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Two single-sided, single-layered discs (BD-25 & DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($28.99 SRP)

VIDEO and AUDIO

Stuck in Love is treated to great picture quality on Blu-ray. The sharp, pristine, vibrant presentation employs a 16:9 screen-filling 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Though that differs from the 2.35:1 ratio listed on IMDb's technical specs page and used on the included trailer, I'm not convinced it's cause for concern, but it could be. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is very strong as well, opening up nicely with music. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included, though neither translates the lyrics of source music.

Writer/director Josh Boone opens up about his film debut in the Blu-ray's making-of featurette interview and audio commentary. A sports bra-wearing Kristen Bell takes the "And" credit at the end of Stuck in Love's 2.35:1 theatrical trailer.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray includes three bonus features.

"The Making of Stuck in Love" (27:42) is a flabby featurette pulling interview comments from the cast (all the leads but Connelly and Bell),

first-time writer/director Josh Boone, and producer Judy Cairo. There's probably a decent 10-minute piece buried within this mass of on-set talking heads lobbing praise at one another and discussing shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Beyond that, there is an audio commentary by Boone and actor Nat Wolff. Boone describes the film's numerous autobiographical elements that mean Wolff is playing him in a way. Their talk is fresh, lively, and screen-specific, touching on the development of scenes and characters, general filming conditions, and the Stephen King admiration running through the film (and Boone's life). Their obvious passion for and belief in the material somewhat eases one discontent with it. However, Boone doesn't make good on his promise to include a deleted scene.

Finally, Stuck in Love's aforementioned 2.35:1 trailer (the only HD bonus) fittingly joins the disc-opening ones for The Iceman, What Maisie Knew, Upside Down, Hell Baby, and Home Run in a Preview section.

Though well under single-layered capacity, the DVD here foregoes including those bonus features, save for the six trailers, suggesting an unnecessary strategy change for Millennium's combo packs.

Each disc's main menu loops a montage of clips and a bit of Nathaniel Walcott, Mike Moggis, and Big Harp's "At Your Door" above listings placed on a torn bit of loose leaf paper. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray isn't authored to support bookmarks or to resume playback.

The two discs, sporting nearly identical labels adapted from the cover art, take opposite sides of a slipcovered, insert-less keepcase.

Bill (Greg Kinnear) is surprised that Erica (Jennifer Connelly) shows up for her estranged daughter's publishing party.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

At its very best, Stuck in Love feels like a poor man's Little Miss Sunshine. Full of irritating characters and cringeworthy moments, this indie family dramedy makes for a fast but off-putting viewing.

Millennium's combo pack sports terrific picture and sound and an okay handful of extras. The set should satisfy those who like the film (including those contributing to its perplexingly high 7.0 rating on IMDb), but I doubt you will be one of them.

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Reviewed October 4, 2013.



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