An Average Musical
Adapting a musical from the stage to the big screen is not always an easy feat; nothing really beats watching one of these performances live. However, titles like Mamma Mia and Les Miserables are some of the more famous examples that have managed to do the musicals justice on the big screen. Stuck is based on an off-Broadway show and while there are a couple of catchy numbers and an important message at its core, the film fails to add that “wow” factor many other musicals have.
The story starts with six complete strangers stuck in a New York subway train in one of underground tunnels. All of them come from different backgrounds, races and ethnicities and it’s here we’re first introduced to Lloyd, a homeless man living in the subway car. He starts the journey by reciting Shakespeare and slowly singing about life. From here, the other five strangers slowly reveal their life struggles through individual songs before ending on a powerful and thought provoking note.
Stuck’s songs are a mixture of pop, slow ballads and acapella tracks. Apart from ‘Many A Couple’, most songs are unfortunately quite average and not really memorable. All the actors perform their songs themselves though and do a pretty good job showcasing their musical talent. While most of the characters are quite stereotypical, the setting is pretty original and designed to create some interesting debates. The movie talks about some serious issues going in the world too but in particular, it focuses on America. Immigration, racism, religion and unwanted pregnancy all come up here and these topics, including the diversity of the different personalities, adds an interesting dynamic to the group.
The message Stuck delivers has been done before – don’t judge a book by its cover and criticize people too quickly; you never know what that person is going through right now. The movie delivers that idea through each character bursting into a song about their lives and how they got to where they are now. This is done with a lot of fading shots showing us the difficulties they’ve experienced up until this point.
There are some poignant moments too; especially seeing Ramon’s struggle with keeping three jobs to feed his three girls, sacrificing his time for them. Sue’s story was also quite emotional and instead of telling us what happened to her son, we are shown his slow decline through her lyrics, showing her past with him through the aforementioned fading shots. While Caleb’s story is probably the weakest of them all, Eve and Alicia act as your typical strong female characters whilst hiding secrets of their own. All these multicultural characters are led by the quirky Lloyd, who’s there to remind us that while we’re all different, we are also facing very similar struggles in life.
Amidst a slew of recent successful musicals, with the likes of The Greatest Showman and La La Land, Stuck is unlikely to ride that same wave of success. The ideas and issues discussed here have been done numerous times before and fail to reach the same level of excitement one may expect to see in a live performance. A couple of songs are quite catchy and the stories quite emotional, delivered well by a competent cast. Despite all this Stuck is a musical that fails to bring enough originality to remain stuck in your mind long after watching this one.