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    Death jam

    Stuart Gordon's murky misuse of Mena Suvari and Stephen Rea makes John Carpenter movies look like Art.


    Bizarre. That's the least one can say about "Stuck," an uncomfortable bargain basement B-movie from the sad, stalled mind of Stuart Gordon ("Re-Animator").

    Directed by: Stuart Gordon.
    Produced by: Jay Firestone, Ken Gord, Robert Katz.
    Written by: John Strysik.
    Cast: Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Russell Hornsby, Rukiya Bernard, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon.
    Cinematography: Denis Maloney.
    Edited by: Andy Horvitch.
    Music by: Bobby Johnston.
    Production design by: Carol Cutshall.
    Art direction by: Carol Cutshall.
    Costumes by: Carol Cutshall.

    Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
    Not only is the film grade B stuff (make that grade Z stuff, or perhaps up a notch — to grade Y — due to the presence of fellow thespians Mena Suvari and Stephen Rea) but it also feels anomalous in today's CGI age, lacking pretty much anything that might rightly be referred to as special, effects-wise (although the film does employ effective use of both a windshield wiper and a pencil).

    "Stuck" has the dirty look and feel of a schlocky '70s reel; one half expects to see Stuart Whitman and Yvonne De Carlo in it, or Mel Ferrer and Elke Sommer, or maybe even Cliff Robertson and Jean Simmons. But not Rea and Suvari. They're just not right for the picture, plain and simple. Either they needed a paycheck or wanted to work for cult horror helmer Gordon; I suspect they wanted to work for Gordon and needed a paycheck and this "Stuck" out.

    The story is, well... bizarre. Suvari plays Brandi, a nurse at a convalescent home who's up for a possible promotion to N.A. Captain (?) if she plays her cards right; Rea is a bum who's skipping out on his landlord as the picture opens (we learn nothing about how or why Tom finds himself in this position). Driving home late one night high on Ecstasy courtesy Russell Hornsby's pusher boyfriend Rashid, Brandi collides with Tom who's crossing the street after being given his marching orders from a local park by a fastidious cop. The hit-and-run, however, is a little different from most. Tom's head (thankfully still attached to his body) comes crashing through the windscreen as Brandi steps on it (the gas I mean). And there he lies, prostrate on the junker's hood, left leg broken, all covered in blood and glass as Brandi heads for... her garage!

    There she parks, whacks Tom with a two-by-four for good measure when he tries to honk the horn for help, and leaves him, impaled on the windshield, to die.

      "Stuck" has the dirty look and feel of a schlocky '70s reel; one half expects to see Stuart Whitman and Yvonne De Carlo in it, or Mel Ferrer and Elke Sommer, or maybe even Cliff Robertson and Jean Simmons.
    Later, both Rashid and Brandi's co-worker Tanya (Rukiya Bernard) learn of Tom's fate as the grotesquely strange events continue to multiply.

    "Stuck" is no glossy Hollywood glamour product but a murky melodrama that looks like it was shot without a cinematographer in mind (although a Denis Maloney appears to have been on the payroll). Likewise, John Strysik's screenplay is unsophisticated to the point of somnambulism. Not everyone speaks like David Mamet or Woody Allen or the Bard it's true but the film's characters sound like they're winging it half the time. As for the actors who play Brandi's boss Mrs. Petersen (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon — ooh look, it's the director's wife!) and a young man walking his Pomeranian, well... They come up seriously short.

    I'm still puzzled as to why Suvari or Rea chose to be in this. All I can think of is that the former wanted her hair braided (by another Gordon; Kathrine no e is credited for that) and the latter didn't want to be forever tied to director Neil Jordan (with whom he has made some nine movies to date). Too late for that, and too late for "Stuck," which feels like it's opening 30 years after the fact.

    Bizarre indeed.

    MAY 29, 2008

    Reader comments on Stuck:

  • T5WEU   from FUCK ME1, Jan 11, 2009

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