There are few things in this world that will make me more disinclined to enjoy a film more quickly than to see that its title quite literally contains a hash-tag. However, rather than this being the symptom of a cash-grabbing corporation that is desperate to connect with some aspect of the youth demographic that will constantly escape its’ tentacled grip by moving on to a new fad, I believe that this film, #Stuck, was the creation of a more nefarious and even more generally annoying group of people: the post-modernist indie “Post-Ironic” crowd. Given a choice between these two groups, I would often rather have the big corporation.
Research informs me that #Stuck was the result of crowd-funding, and the fact that we have a boxed DVD copy of this all the way in South Africa is a good indication of the success of that form of fundraising. I am grateful that this form of independent filmmaking shows evidence of working out on occasion, as it serves an important role in the world of young filmmakers of today, and should be encouraged. Concepts and ideas that would nearly always be shut down by studios can be given space and public support to breathe and grow into completed products, with a far closer relationship between audience and creator. That being said, an interesting concept, which #Stuck does have, is not enough to carry an entire movie, and furthermore, you need more than just a single interesting idea to make a good movie.
#Stuck features Guy (Moore) and Holly (Zima) as a late twenties-early thirties pair that meet in a bar, and hook up for a drunken one night stand. The next morning, Zima must be returned to her car, which is across town, and the two depart in a taxi, which quickly gets caught up in a huge traffic jam. From there, the majority of the movie takes place inside the taxi, as Guy and Holly deal with the after-effects of the night before, with a few flashbacks to the mentioned events. Most of the movie is dialogue, and deals with the couple having to approach their emotions about the other person.
This is a smart, neat concept, but one which is immediately challenging, because if all you really have is two people sitting in car talking, you better make sure that they have something interesting to say or discuss, because otherwise you will lose your audience’s attention. Sadly, what we have are two annoying young people who should have grown up a long time ago. Both are quite unlikeable, and although there is a realistic progression in their emotions and how they respond to each other as the movie progresses, I don’t really want to watch an entire movie of adult-children being passive aggressive to each other. I’m sure this movie represents a lot of today’s modern youth culture, and in that way I suppose it is a success, but it fails at being entirely realistic, and instead bears too much immediate evidence of wanting to be an “Ironic Anti-Romance movie.” A setting that does nothing but criticize another setting without offering anything of its own as new is on shaky ground at the best of times.
It just seems to me that this movie tries to say things we all know but with the air of being especially revelatory. Yes, romances in real life are often not like those we see in fiction. Yes, real life is difficult and filled with conflict. You don’t need to act like I don’t know these things, because it makes me feel insulted as an audience member. And aside from this, the 20-something characters trying to find love and “find themselves” in an urban (usually New York) setting is so played out that I find it incredibly annoying. Yes, it may well be what the filmmakers know personally, but at the same time it has been done to death. The fact that Guy and Holly are hitting 30 just makes it worse. Once again, life is hard for everyone; it is far worse for many others, get over it.
#Stuck (despite its name) is not a terribly bad movie, more one which just annoyed me personally. On an objective level of merit, it is worth looking at, as its concept is fresh and its technique is good. However, if the characters are uninteresting, and all you have is characters in a dialogue, it can be very hard to enjoy a movie. I admire the effort of the people who made this movie, but more originality is needed than just a concept.
As a note, the back of the DVD case has the best “so bad its good” blurb for a DVD I have seen in many years. Rife with misspellings and grammar mistakes as well as awkward formulations, my favorite line remains: “The Morning After:…the sun rises, eyes open, and brains = bricks.”