Stuck in Love is a Mediocre Film About ‘Writers’

If all the writers were men obsessed with cool-girl tropes

For a movie centered on a family of writers, the characters in Stuck in Love are excruciatingly one-dimensional. The surface level wants and needs of each character are easily identifiable, but past that, there isn’t much depth to anyone in the film. What is it about Greg Kinnear that he almost always depicts awful/terrible men? He looks in his ex-wife’s windows at night and this is acceptable because of his supposed gut-wrenching love and heartbreak? Absolutely no way.

The writer that is so obsessed with a woman that it destroys him is and always has been, toxic.

Okay, he wants his wife back. His ex-wife wants to get on with her life.. or does she? She wants to repair her relationship with her daughter, which spoiler alert, she does but instead of them having a conversation it is depicted in a split-second scene of them crying and hugging. Lou, Logan Lerman’s character, has a sick mother and wants to get to know/date Lily Collins’ character who has a book published at 19? Sure, okay.

There are other plot lines. Kristen Bell is someone’s wife that runs by and screws Greg Kinnear, but also helps him with outfits for his online dating profile (that hardly ever gets mentioned??) so we get as close as we can to a teen-going-shopping montage. The scene would be better with a pink boa, in my opinion. There is no conversation about the fact his wife left him for the man she cheated on him with, and now he is a man another woman is cheating on him with? Whatever.

How progressive! A woman seeking out casual sex!

I hate to say it, but it is so obvious this movie was written by a man exclusively by looking at the women archetypes in the film. A minimal detail, but Nat Wolff’s character calls the addict he has a crush on in his English class an angel, and then the sick mom calls Samantha an angel at the door… maybe twenty minutes later? To which, Lerman replies, “That’s no angel, Mom.” Or something like that.

God, we get it. The girl who sleeps with idiot jock meatheads because of her jilted relationship with her mother after the dissolution of her parents’ marriage could be examined as emotional cutting, but nah. Lerman just wants to love her! They have the same favorite book, for goodness sake! Because he is a #niceguy or, what idiots on Tiktok might mislabel a “simp.” That’s all Lerman is in the film, though. Quietly suffering and too nice. On the other side of the coin…

Samantha is portrayed as an intelligent but “damaged” woman who sleeps around until she is scooped up by Lou. Am I the cynic for finding this a blasé? Possibly. There is too much centered upon the young woman with her own ideas and the beauty in her softening. She rants on and on about how she does not want love and how her little brother should be a realist because “realists get laid.”

It ends on a Raymond Carver quote about a tumultuous and alcohol-driven night from his story What We Talk about When We Talk About Love. This is the second time we hear the quote in the film. The tone of the 2014 film Birdman where the famous short story is adapted for the stage is as peculiar and dark as Carvers’ piece is more fitting than whatever sugary-sweet sentiment Stuck in Love is trying to wring from it.

I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.

Everything referenced in the movie is sad. Bright Eyes? Quintessential emo. Eliot Smith? Doubly so. Raymond Carver talking about a twisted dinner party where everyone drinks too much gin has no place in a movie about a family getting back together.

Stuck in Love attempts to scratch the surface of discussing the elusiveness and complexity of love, but falls short.

There is an opportunity between Wolff and Collins’ character since there is a definite sibling bond between them, but all they talk about is fucking and their parents’ marriage. And sometimes Stephen King. And the fact that Collins sleeps around to keep herself numb because she doesn’t want to hurt again like her mother hurt her is completely glossed over and instead shown through the lens of her needing to be saved by a “good boy” like Lerman.

The entire film has a 500 Days of Summer, I’m-so-obsessed-with-this-woman-that-explicitly-says-she-does-not-want-a-relationship-with-me-but-I’ll-persevere-until-she-caves-vibe.

No, thanks.

Writer (she/her) of the foodish, bookish, & feminist. Author of Bright Blue (poetry) Dancing Girl Press / Website: www.aliciabanaszewski.com / Twitter: @b___ski

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