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by Philip Martin | October 10, 2014 at 1:55 a.m.

There is a refreshingly breezy slightness to Stuart Acher's directorial debut #Stuck, a modern romantic comedy that veers away from the standard date-night cliches. While the movie's ambitions are as modest as its budget -- it was reportedly shot in 10 days and cost less than $1 million -- it provides us with plausible characters played by likable actors. If you're looking for a pleasant diversion, it'll do.

It's not a terribly original story -- Guy (Joel David Moore) and Holly (Madeline Zima) connect at a bar one night and, due to forces beyond their control, end up spending far more of the morning after together than they'd ever intended. And in the process, they cycle through the familiar post-hookup emotions of self-loathing, regret, disgust and irritation only to arrive at a place where they can not only recognize each other's humanity but actually like each other.


83 Cast: Madeline Zima, Joel David Moore, Abraham Benrubi

Director: Stuart Acher

Rating: Unrated

Running time: 84 minutes

In this case, the device that prevents them from separating is a Los Angeles traffic jam, and the bulk of the film takes place with our reluctant couple alone together in Guy's car, with nothing really to do except talk. Guy considers himself a "serial datist," which is an oblique way of saying that he prefers casual sex to relationships, while Holly describes herself as a "serial monogamist" who, of course, has never really done this sort of thing before.

On the other hand, she's not quite sure about her current boyfriend.

While the movie isn't quite brave enough not to flash back to the night before and the circumstances that put Guy and Holly together in that car (I'm thinking it might have been more interesting if Acher had adopted the hyper-realistic approach of Steven Knight's Locke and just put us in the car with the stalled couple for a real-time 90 minutes or so), it's in these scenes that the poverty of the production begins to shine through. Moore and Zima aren't exactly Burton and Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, but they do make their characters feel real, at least when they're interacting with each other. But when the action moves out of the car, the film dissipates into just another not terribly good rom-com.

Still, there's a germ of a good idea here, and the two leads have more than sufficient chemistry. Acher's Internet Movie Database page suggests he's a hardworking journeyman who probably deserves a crack at making bigger-budget movies. There's nothing here to suggest he can't do a lot better than any number of amiable Hollywood hacks.

MovieStyle on 10/10/2014

Print Headline: #stuck


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