TL;DR – When it gets to the emotional core of music Stuck has some real emotional weight, but it has issues getting between those moments.
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
There are many things that can make a bad day and I can tell you that being stuck in a train carriage with a bunch of strangers for an indeterminate amount of time would be very high on that list. With this in mind, I was captivated with the idea of setting a musical in that setting and where you could go with the pressures and opportunity of keeping everyone in that one space. What we get in the final film is a story with two halves, however, unfortunately, they don’t quite work together.
So to set the scene, it is a day in New York and disconnected strangers are running around in their day trying to get from one place to another. You have Lloyd (Giancarlo Esposito) a homeless gentleman who is getting ready for the day in the actual train carriage. Alica (Arden Cho) a dancer trying to get home and avoid her stalker Ramon (Omar Chaparro), Caleb (Gerard Canonico) who is running between his many jobs, then Eve (Ashanti) and Sue (Amy Madigan) who are just trying to get home on a difficult day. Fate is a precarious thing at times, and this day as they board the train everything grinds to a halt as a police incident closes the train lines trapping the train in-between stations, and as the carriages are locked there is the realisation that they are trapped and the only thing you can do is sing.
I don’t think parts of the film worked, there were moments where Stuck really shines. The first thing is
that the cast is amazing, Giancarlo is instantly compelling from the moment he
appears on the screen and that continues throughout the film. The concept
itself is a really good idea because it is something that everyone can relate
to because we have all been stuck with strangers on public transport when it
all fell apart. Also at the core, this is a musical, and when it gets into the
musical side of things the film comes alive. The cast all have wonderful voices
that in the big whole cast numbers it just pops. All of this makes those
emotional beats especially towards the end of the film really hit home.
Where the film does not quite work is in the connective tissue in-between the musical numbers. At times it falls flat and at other times borders on the offensive. Now I have not seen the original musical this film is based off so I can’t tell you if the following issues are because of the original or the adaptation. At the start, it felt like these awkward encounters were fitting because they were strangers but as the film went on it never progressed from this. Part of the issue is I think that this was filmed a couple of years ago and the world has shifted in that time. There was a sub-plot with a women and a guy that is following her around and even though there is a song about how dangerous it is for women in the city, there is a whole dialogue scene where she is the bad guy for not even giving him a go, like that, is something she needs to do, and it is as difficult to watch as it sounds.
of what doesn’t quite work is that film is working on playing off a fantastic
reality scenario however it tries to be a bit too coy with it. There was this
overarching narrative of putting people that needed to meet together because of
fate, but this felt less like an integrated part of the film and more of a
bookend which diluted the impact. Also from watching it, I could see how the
narrative structure could work really well as a play where you have that live audience
dynamic to work off, and without it, well it just does not have the same
In the end, so de we recommend Stuck? Maybe. If you are a fan of musicals, then this setting shakes things up in a way that I think will really be interesting for you. However, for me, all the connecting stuff of the film just didn’t work and that just really limits how much I would recommend it.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Stuck
Directed by – Michael Berry
Screenplay by – Michael Berry
Based on – Stuck by Riley Thomas
Music/Lyrics by – Ben Maughan, Riley Thomas & Timothy Young
Edited by – Jimmy Hill, Elisa Cohen & Lucy Donaldson
Cinematography by – Luke Geissbuhler
Production/Distribution Companies – MJW Films, Little Angel Productions & Eammon Films
Starring – Giancarlo Esposito, Amy Madigan, Ashanti, Arden Cho, Omar Chaparro, Gerard Canonico, Timothy Young & Reyna de Courcy
Rating – United States: PG-13