If I were to declare there to be a cinematic cousin to co-writer/director Steve Blackwood's Stuck, it would be the delightfully quirky yet incredibly heartfelt Lars and the Real Girl, a film you don't have to know me very long to realize I love and a film that came to mind during this 14-minute comedy short that takes a slightly kinky set-up and turns out an entertaining, surprisingly wholesome, and incredibly heartfelt little gem.
George (Blackwood) and Helen (Sandy Bainum) are a New York advertising couple less than an hour away from a dinner party with clients. Things are pretty much going as planned, which means, of course, that nothing will go as planned. When Finn (Max Schochet) arrives a knockin', the house starts rockin' with a special delivery of the Love Trap 3000.
You probably don't want to know. But, of course you do.
As you might expect, the Love Trap 3000 is a sex machine that George and Helen will spice things up in the bedroom. Thanks to Finn's exuberant enthusiasm, things definitely get spiced up and suddenly George and Helen have less than an hour to figure out how to get Finn untrapped from their sex machine and still get the household ready for their special guests.
While the set-up for Stuck sounds incredibly naughty, there's an underlying sweetness and humor to everything that unfolds that takes Stuck up a couple of notches from what you might be expecting. Oh sure, there's some naughty <wink wink> humor to be found here, however, George and Helen are an absolute delight and this is a film that delivers from beginning to end.
Blackwood is a mostly indie actor whom you may have seen in such films as Cedar Rapids and Machine Gun Preacher among others. Having crossed over into the world of writing/directing, he's still quite the gifted actor and here radiates a nice combo of heart and humor that works perfectly alongside the more expressive and hilariously delightful Bainum, a veteran of both stage and screen. Together, the two are wonderful together and the ending just drives that home absolutely beautifully.
While he's in the film relatively briefly, Max Schochet is an absolute hoot as Finn but never goes so over-the-top that Finn becomes a caricature. While you may find yourself wishing you saw him just a little more toward film's end, Schochet is a scene-stealer and his work here is fantastic.
As a micro-budgeted short, Stuck has some minor sound issues but these are truly a minor concern as everyone here is absolutely top notch including Darren Morze's absolutely perfect original music which, I can't deny, had me thinking of Married with Children for some reason.
I don't know. Baffles me. But hey, Married with Children had original music that you remember to this day. Admit it.
D.P. Michael B. Fisher keeps the film looking lively and energized whether he's following the overly exuberant Finn or capturing the rather delightful looks between George and Helen as the film winds down. Chris Esper, whose films are regularly reviewed here on The Independent Critic, shows up as editor here and keeps the film running at a brisk yet relatable pace.
A film like Stuck can be incredibly tough to pull off, either going overly naughty or simply not having much to say. Stuck has an awful lot of fun along the way, but also tells a story is worth saying with characters you'll enjoy being around. For more information on the film, check out its official IMDB page linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic