Chad White, Stuck In Love, But Also Lives In The Real World
SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE “STUCK IN LOVE” BELOW:
I’m a sucker for romantic comedies right now.
The idea that the loveable protagonist can screw up a million times and still get his or her significant other back astounds me; How these people can go on “get my life together” montages and end up way better than they were before; The characters have those wacky best friends that end up giving the best life advice; They have the job where they make too much or too little money but they still find some way to be happy with the person of their choosing.
And then I watched Stuck In Love on Netflix and my dreams were shattered.
The premise of the movie is that Greg Kinnear is a well off and recognized writer with a writer ex-wife, played by Jennifer Connelly, who he is still in love with, and two kids, Lily Collins and Nat Wolff, who also happen to be writers. Kinnear and his son live in this lavish beach home while his daughter goes to college. She also happens to be publishing a book at the age of 19. It’s safe to say to say that so far, these characters are doing way better than I am when I was that age a year ago.
Kinnear pines for Connelly but she’s already moved on. He creepily looks into her window at night as she argues with her new man or just reads a book. Kinnear even asks his son to set a place for her at Thanksgiving every year hoping that maybe one day she’ll return to the family and they can live happily ever after. Until then, his days are filled with reading, sleeping, and engaging in an affair with a hot blonde housewife played by Kristen Bell. He hasn’t written anything since his wife left which irks me to no end. What kind of writer sells enough of one book to live like he does? I for one would love to get to know his publisher. Kinnear did publish two books following Connelly leaving but he informs her that those were already finished prior to the divorce. It’s extremely obvious that their break up took a toll on him creatively.
I’ve been in the same situation, not being able to write after a tragic ended romance. I’ve written about it before (Twice) so I’m no novice when it comes to this whole broken heart thing. But when I watched this movie, I became enraged at the whole story line. Yes, you’re supposed to suspend disbelief when you go see a movie but this was plain ridiculous.
Kinnear lives a pretty sweet lifestyle in a seaside home. He mopes around all day, pinning for the woman he continues to love long after she’d left him. Oddly enough, they talk occasionally. Some exes do this but, in Kinnear and Connelly’s situation, they often flirt with one another. And Kinnear is banging Kristen Bell. So he’s got everything that any man could ever need. However, there’s something in our DNA that wants more. Kinnear is no exception. He is never completely satisfied with what he currently has. No, he cries for more; wanting his wife back, wanting his love life to be a peace. I can relate to this. What I wouldn’t give to experience those few months with that girl again.
I can tell this movie was written by a writer in love. I don’t know if the writer Josh Boone was going through some shit of his own at the time but if he was, it really comes through in this movie. He wrote his life into the plot of the film. His emotions drove the story. Likewise, the characters are asked to channel their emotional energy into their own writings. Literally. Kinnear asks his children to write every time there is an emotional event. And in this movie, there are plenty of those. Faux events like Lily Collins hating her mother for three years and Nat Wolff getting the popular girl in school who wants to fix herself for him. Writing is the main focus of the movie with the catalyst being love.
The original title for Stuck In Love was Writers when it appeared at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2011. Naturally, it fits the film but I guess both titles could work. Stuck In Love can be the emotional Hell that the characters are going through: Kinnear’s love for Connelly; Lerman’s love for Collins; and Wolff’s love for Kate. But these characters are also in some sort of love purgatory, wanting more than they can actually receive; Stuck floating in a black abyss of intense feelings that they aren’t able to truly express. Yes, Kinnear wants his wife back but can he handle the responsibility of marriage again? He’s been screwing Kristen Bell in secret for God knows how long. He may have actually forgotten how to be in love. There’s another stalky instance in which Kinnear returns outside of Connelly’s home and he tries to symbolically place his ring on the windowsill as a way to show that he has finally let her go. But lo-and-freaking-behold, she just so happens to be reading one of his books on the couch. Upon seeing this, he can’t bring himself to leave the ring. Worst yet, he basically paces back and forth in her yard in front of her curtainless window WITH PLENTY OF LIGHT SHINING ON HIM before deciding to take his ring with him. He should’ve been caught or at the very least told to stay off her property, especially since she knew he was doing crap like this. Later on, Kinnear reveals to his daughter that when she was a baby, he left Connelly and she waited six months for him. Six months. Then he adds in why he’s been moping around for the past three years: he’s waiting for her to return to him just as she did for him. What kind of Disney-esque bullshit is that? This movie is supposed to mirror real life but, instead, I’m more inclined to believe Watchmen was based on a true story than crap like this.
The daughter Collins is in a much different camp. She just wants to have one night stands but all the guys she talks to are significantly dumber than her. She needs a guy to be both her intellectual and sexual equal. In comes Percy Jackson himself, Logan Lerman. He is introduced as some guy at a bar trying to stop Collins from making the mistake of sleeping with random guys. He essentially stalks her at night and forces her on a date with him. It’s only when she meets Lerman’s terminally ill mother that she sees that he is a sweet guy and ends up dating him. Collins comes off as shallow, pretentious and rude when it comes to love. She’s more like her parents than she thinks. I’m also forgetting one VERY important thing, Collins wrote a novel "over the summer" following her father editing her first book and her not taking the suggestions lightly. A 19 year old child wrote a book in three months and it’s getting published and needed minimal editing. Looks like I need to step my writing game up a bit.
Finally, there’s the prodigal son. Wolff falls for some girl from his class who just so happens to have a drug problem. The problem with the kid is, just like his father, he is a romantic. He’s always looking for the princess that he can save. Kate the Troubled Girl just so happens to be that princess. After punching her boyfriend in the face, the two begin dating and instantly fall in love. They have closet sex and some other stuff happens but this girl relapses back into drugs. She’s sent back to rehab blah blah blah. Wolff turns to alcohol and weed when she leaves. His badassness is marked by the stupid fucking earring he gets. After getting pummeled by Kate's ex and grounded by his father for telling him that he spiraled out of control when Connelly left, Wolff gets a letter from Kate that says she hopes that he waits for her as she returns from rehab. When I saw that, I went apeshit. How dare Josh Boone put that kind of convenience in the script. I understand that Wolff’s experiences are to replicate that of his father’s but come on. Oh, then he gets a call from Stephen King who is literally phoning it in. I can’t even explain what kind of fantasy world in which these people live.
Stuck In Love promotes the idea that one should never give up, no matter the circumstances. That’s a great theme to go by but it shouldn’t get into comically bad or cartoony territory. The script is okay and I’m not knocking Boone’s ability to write. But there is a point when things happen for the sake of the story, the sake of convenience to character that leads me to hate this movie. This wasn’t a review, it was a reflection on what this movie stood for in the writing world. Don’t introduce a movie about a writer only to have everything turn out perfectly. Any author can write something and have everything come out perfectly fine as if they were playing God. But you have to use that power in the right way. This movie had no consequences whatsoever. Everyone got a happy ending. Nothing significantly bad went down. And love prevailed.
I don’t know if I’ll fall in love again. I’d like to but I just don’t see it happening. I’ve been holding out hope for months now since my last heartbreak which is coming up on a year now. There’s a point you reach when you realize that nothing will be the same again. You have to get out and make things happen instead of waiting for the ball to get rolling. So I’ll continue my writing; making sure my life experiences influence everything I put down on paper as I try to make people laugh. And maybe one day I’ll get that second chance. Until then I’ll just do what I do best and be me. Once you’ve done everything that you physical and mentally can and you didn’t get your way, you have to move onto the next thing and hope for the better. That’s just how real life works. Sometimes, there are no second chances.
Or, at the very least, I haven’t had any.