A family of literary geniuses come emotionally a-cropper in this passable indie comedy.
Fans of the movie Smart People (What?!! You don't remember Smart People? Shame on you!) are in for a double lottery-win with Josh Boone's Stuck In Love, a sappy soap opera concerning a family of literary geniuses who – get this! – are all emotionally stunted despite the fact that they're really well read. Book smarts are one thing, but can words on a printed page actually penetrate the human psyche in any meaningful way? No, they can't. (Wait, come back!)
Perennial also-ran of American cinema, Greg Kinnear, plays an also-ran author who's been ditched by his wife, Jennifer Connelly, for a younger, buffer specimen. He mooches with unbecoming stubble and half-moon glasses in his blustery seafront stack, waiting for the day she returns to him while pawing hacky paperbacks and gladly accepting no-strings sex from his fitness freak neighbour (Kristen Bell). Meanwhile, his nerdlinger son Rusty (Nat Wolff) has hooked up with a classmate who has "issues" (she's a Bright Eyes fan and drug addict), and his repellant daughter, Samantha (Lily Collins), is having her first novel published and has let fame go to her head by porking slack-jawed jocks left-right-and-centre.
Writer-director Boone does little to convince that these characters are genuinely sensitive, intellectually superior, or more importantly, that their talents play any real part in alleviating/causing their worldly stresses. They too often come across as yapping mouth pieces for Boone's own artsy namechecking, his film more an undergrad reading/listening list than a movie rooted in the real world and interested in real people – the possibility that a person who hasn't read John Cheever might still be interesting is outlawed from the off. Also, a scene in which Lily Collins is moved to tears by Elliott Smith's Between The Bars being played through a car stereo as it pelts down with rain outside amounts to precious posturing, not deep emotional insight.
Though Greg Kinnear is an actor who seldom gives himself the opportunity to play someone who isn't Greg Kinnear (Paul Schrader's Autofocus remains his sole late-period gem), he still steals the show here with his unfussy hip dad routine. This is also largely down to the performances from the other cast members being either excessively annoying (Collins), charmless (Wolff) or just plain weak (Connelly). Special mention, though, goes to Logan Lerman who essentially rehashes his goofball turn from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but this time instead of it being extraordinarily wet, it's actually kinda sweet.