Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

‘Stuck’ is like the best movie I’ve ever seen. This month. Factoring in how many movies I watch in a given month, mainly because I have virtually no life beyond my living room, that’s high praise. All joking aside when people ask me off the cuff, “Hey Chris, have you seen anything good lately?” The answer to that question for the first time in a long time is “Hell Yes”.

This is the story of two different people whose lives come together in quite a special way. First there’s Brandi, played by the always lovely Mena Suvari who has her hair braided so tight in this flick that she almost looks like faux sista. Brandi is a hard working dedicated health professional at a nursing home who dutifully cleans up old peoples doo- doo and seems to be in line for a really big promotion. However when she’s off work Brandi likes to let it loose with her co-worker and running partner Tanya (Rukiya Bernard) and occasionally sample the goods of her ecstasy dealing boyfriend Rashid (Russel Hornsby).

Thomas Bardo (Stephen Rea) on the other hand is the poster child for ‘hard times’. The well spoken unemployed project manager has just been kicked out of his apartment, his jobless benefits have run out, and he’s caught up in the severely broken unemployment office bureaucracy which gives us a clear view that his already bleak future looks practically hopeless. A fellow homeless dude even gives him a shopping cart which practically seals his descent into bumdom.

So with Brandi high on ex behind the wheel of her Corolla and Thomas not watching where he’s going while crossing the street pushing his shiny new shopping cart, he gets up close and personal with Brandi’s front bumper and does a header into Brandi’s windshield. Now Brandi did seriously think about getting the dude some help, but she is high remember, so instead she parks her jacked up ride in the garage with the bum sticking out the windshield and goes into the house to have nasty sex with her boyfriend.

Brandi does try to go about her normal daily business but things are complicated because Thomas, though messed up real good, isn’t quite dead. And even though there’s all kind of broken jagged glass inside his body, he’s still quite active as he bangs on the horn and tries to make phone calls and stuff which only upsets Brandi who’s trying to get a promotion over here, and she expresses her displeasure with Thomas via the always persuasive ‘2’ X ‘4’ to head. Eventually she has to bring Rashid in on the situation who obviously didn’t completely understand what Brandi meant when she said she was in a ‘car accident’. Something has to been done about the cat sticking out the windshield in the garage, and our crossed lovers have come to a conclusion that should prompt Thomas to find a way to get unstuck and get some help because it’s not looking good for my man. Not at all.

‘Stuck’ was directed by Stuart Gordon who most of you know made himself famous, or infamous depending on where you stand, back in 1985 with ‘Re-Animator’, a sick darkly humorous horror movie if ever there was one. Twenty plus years later Gordon has essentially done the same thing with ‘Stuck’, only that this movie happens to be sicker, darker and even funnier. And if a man can make you cringe while at the same time making you laugh, that man must have some talent.

What makes ‘Stuck’ work so well for me, among other things, is that Gordon, who also co-scripted the film, in a very short time creates some very clear well defined characters and then completely destroys those initial images we had of them. Brandi, played with impressive dramatic flair by Ms. Suvari, seems to be a good honest hard-working person. Oh well, so much for that. Steven Rae, who to his credit had to do the majority of his acting upside down with his legs sticking out of a windshield, is a pathetic loser. Or maybe he’s just a cat who really is being crapped upon by society and when pushed to the limit can pull himself out. Then there’s the Escalade driving drug slinging tough as nails thug Rashid, who as it turns out probably isn’t any of those things as he was played to near comic perfection by Russell Hornsby.

Though I would hesitate to call ‘Stuck’ a horror movie, it did have some horror elements embedded within its narrative, as watching and listening, due to some excellent sound design, to the rather graphic depictions of the character Thomas wriggling himself around attempting to free himself from being impaled on a windshield was pretty wrenching. There were a couple of fairly intense gory scenes in this film, starting with the rather graphic car accident to the somewhat surprising, but albeit inevitable conclusion.

One last thing that helps propel ‘Stuck’ is that just when you’re about to tell yourself that this is completely nutty, it always jumps back in your head this thing really did happen. Obviously this a completely fictional dramatization, but the outlandish core of the film is unfortunately as true as it gets. Never has the term ‘inspired by true events’ been as important to a films narrative as Chante Mallard, high on ecstasy, running down and killing Gregory Ballard back in 2001.

Subversive, sickly humorous, tragic and just all around messed up – for lack of a better phrase – ‘Stuck’ is a movie that is almost without flaw from my perspective. I say almost as there are a few inconsistencies and quirks embedded in there somewhere, but I’m completely ignoring those as this was my kind of movie and one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen in a long time.

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