Monday, May 16, 2016

Movie Monday: Stuck in Love

With a very rare evening all alone at home last night, I decided to watch a movie. My selection criteria was a bit odd: free on Netflix or Amazon, about 90 minutes (ish), and something my husband probably wouldn't be thrilled to watch. I quickly paged through dozens of movies under one of the "You might like..." categories on Netflix, checking the time stamps and ratings, and chose Stuck in Love because it was only 96 minutes and had 4 stars. My random selection method worked pretty well, and I enjoyed this warm, funny, thoughtful movie about family and love that follows the romantic experiences of an entire family for a year.

William Borgen, played wonderfully by Greg Kinnear, is a famed novelist and father of two teenagers. William won a prestigious award for his last novel, but hasn't been able to write anything at all since his wife, Tricia (played by Jennifer Connelly), left him for another man two years ago. Instead, he spends his free time tip-toeing around in the bushes outside her house, spying on her and her new husband and looking for signs of trouble in their marriage. When he sets a place for her at their Thanksgiving table at the start of the movie, even his kids tell him he needs to let go and move on.

His son, Rusty, played by Nat Wolff, is also hopelessly in love. He pines after a girl in his high school English class, Kate, who barely knows he is alive and has a jock boyfriend. Rusty also has writing aspirations and loves Stephen King novels. His older sister, Samantha, played by Lily Collins, is home from college for the holiday with big news: at just 19, her first novel is being published, following in her dad's famous footsteps. When it comes to love, though, Samantha takes the opposite approach, having a series of meaningless one-night stands and avoiding love at any cost because she doesn't want to get hurt or end up like her parents. In fact, Samantha hasn't spoken to her mother in over a year and blames her for the break-up and her father's rut.

The movie follows the love lives of the family - and especially William and his two children - for a year. William has quick trysts with a married neighbor, played by Kristen Bell, and tries her advice to start dating again. Rusty takes his dad's advice to get more "life experiences" and takes a chance on telling Kate how he feels. Samantha meets Lou, a really nice guy who wants to be her friend (and more), but she keeps brushing him off and keeping him at arm's length. Meanwhile, William never gives up on his dream that Tricia might still come back to him.

I really enjoyed this romantic comedy that doesn't follow the typical romcom plot line, with its three different but intersecting romantic stories, alongside the love between the family members. It was warm and thoughtful, with plenty of humorous moments. The entire cast was great, especially Greg Kinnear who is one of my favorite actors. The movie also has a wonderful Indie soundtrack - I listened to it on Spotify again this morning! As a bonus, with a whole family of avid readers and writers, there is a thread of books throughout the story - the books they read, the books they share with others, and the books they write. A romantic comedy about a family with a bookish focus? Perfect for me!

Stuck in Love is currently available free on Netflix and for $2.99 on Amazon.

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