Thursday, June 13, 2013

'Stuck in Love' (2012) directed by Josh Boone


Stuck in Love is a film where an idiot, writer/director Josh Boone, tries to imagine what smart people act like.  I hated this film.  I really, really fucking despised it.  I despised it to the point where my head was throbbing with sheer hatred.  I sunk down in my seat lower and lower as it went on, a black aura with hints of crimon forming around me.  I was a gravitational black hole of sheer unadulterated anger that someone out there would have the nerve to make a film this godawfully shitty.  I was glaring at the screen with such ferocity that I half expected it to catch fire, so strong were the dark, negative vibes streaming out of me.  

It's a romantic comedy (which is fine, I have nothing against romantic comedies) yet is neither romantic nor comedic.  The film examines on the fractured Borgens family.  William (Greg Kinnear) is the father, Erica (Jennifer Connelly) is the mother, Samantha (Lily Collins) is the older sister and Rusty (Nat Wolff) is the younger brother.  All have various love-related issues.  The two parents are divorced, though William is convinced that his ex-wife, now married to a gym owner, will return to him.  Samantha hates her mother and furiously denies that love even exists, believing in some vaguely outline nihilism.  Rusty is an awkward virgin.  

Look at those dead-eyed gooberish stares.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with this setup.  I'm a bit of a sucker for a 'love saves the day' type films, and watching some moderately broken people learning about themselves and soothing their damaged souls isn't necessarily a bad way to spend time in a cinema.  Wes Anderson has made a career out of this, and his films are a-OK in my book.  But where Anderon's films are stylish and funny, Stuck in Love is just a big load of shit.

Part of the problem is that the film is so unbearably pleased with itself.  The central family are fantastically wealthy, and ooze an off-puttingly cliche liberal 'good taste' in everything they do, from interior design, to music choices to fashion.  Aside from the artist mother, this is a family of writers.  Large swathes of dialogue concern the writing process, the books they are having published and their favourite writers.  Despite this preoccupation with interesting fiction, the film is dead set on telling the most boring possible story it can; the plot locked firmly on rails and heading straightforward with no surprises whatsoever down the line.

Why do you have two pairs of sunglasses Greg Kinnear I don't understand.
Stuck in Love falls into an old trap: as the characters develop they cheer up and simultaneously become more boring.  For example, the sister goes from an mildly interesting promiscuous misanthrope to bovine happiness and the father from tortured, smashed-up stalker to productive and honest maturity.  Characters becoming dull as they get happier is a problem in any work of fiction (although Groundhog Day manages to avoid it).  The problem is that this film starts at boring and goes downhill from there. 

Being boring as fuck is a killer blow, but as I cowered in my cinema seat the film kept raining vicious punches down upon me.  The faux-intellectualism began to cause a trickle of foamy blood and saliva to ooze from my battered face.  It's faux-intellectualism because in a film about characters writing things we are explicitly told are amazing, we never get to hear them.  The father has apparently written a famous book, yet we are never told even what it's about, let alone given an example of his writing.  The sister has had a book published, yet all we know about it is that it's got a lot of sex in it and has a really shitty jacket design.  In fact, the only piece of writing we do here is a god damn fucking awful love poem read out in class by the younger brother.

*bangs projector* CINEMA!  BE! MORE! ENTERTAINING!  
The obvious reason for this is that to show that these characters are outstanding writers, Josh Boone would have to be a outstanding writer himself.  He's not.  The script is full of the worst kind of exposition, characters blurting out exactly how they feel the entire time with the subtlety of someone giving you a haircut with a chainsaw.  Boone is similarly out of his depth in the direction too, relying on bland soap operatic technique with zero sense of style, composition or any single whiff of any interesting cinematic ideas.

So I hate this film like I'd hate a rotten onion.  The more I peel away the rancid layers the more vile it becomes.  Let me blather out some disconnected examples of why I hate this film:
  • It's unbearably white. We're supposed to sympathise with these characters who live a cosseted upper-class existence entirely free of worries. There is but one black man in the film. He is instantly defined as a violent, marijuana-hungry thug.
  • It legitimises stalking, presenting creeping around voyeuristically observing someone from a bush as the height of romanticism.
  • The prudishness on display throughout, down to the point where two characters bang in a cupboard because the film is too squeamish to actually show sex on screen.
  • Similarly, it's hypocritical about drug-taking, showing smoking weed as a-ok, but gets all uptight when someone dares snort a line of cocaine.  The characters who enjoy non-marijuana drugs get self-righteously brutalised by our leads, leading to a bizarre sequence where Greg Kinnear kicks a stranger's door in and  proceeds to break his nose for having the audacity to do some drugs with his son's girlfriend.
  • Finally, and something that absolutely drove me up the wall.  The sister is asked what her favourite Beatles song is.  She replies "Polythene Pam".  Polythene Pam?!  You what?!?  A minute long segment of the medley in Abbey Road - that's your favourite Beatles song?  What kind of utterly pretentious prick would pick that?  Jesus!
Things of interest in this picture: 0

Look, I go to a lot of films.  I can sit through a hell of a lot of shitty cinema.  This nearly finished me off.  By the mid way point I was trapped in a horrified numbness.  Desperately I began dragging my nails across my arm, scratching furrows into the flesh, anxious to feel something, anything.  I began chewing the cap to my bottle of water, idly contemplating swallowing it to choke myself into an dizzy anoxic haze.  Fantasies crept into my head of what it'd be like to just stand up, shove a pistol in my mouth and paint the silver screen with my brains, or commit ritual seppuku, Mishima-style, spilling my intestines across the row in front of me.

I entertained a pleasant daydream of hunting down the writer/director, pinning him to the floor and letting loose a vomity tide of rancid black ichor from my scarred, chewed-up mouth, the steaming goo burning his flesh away like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly.  This film is.... it's the worst, man!  It's dreadful.  It's inconsequential.  It's the pits!  THE PITS. The worst brand of saccharine pointlessness!  Don't go and see it.  Club yourself in the head instead.  Poke your eyes out with long steel needles.  Break your bones one by one. Anything is preferable.

I wish the very worst for everyone involved in this film in both their professional and private lives.  I hope Josh Boone gets run over by a bus.

No stars

Stuck in Love is on general release from June 14th.  God I wish it wasn't.

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1 Responses to “'Stuck in Love' (2012) directed by Josh Boone”

Phil R. said...
June 16, 2013 at 9:48 PM

Ha ha ha. Great rant!


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