May 19, 2019

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‘Stuck’ Review: A Movie Musical Set in a Subway Car? Stand Clear.

‘Stuck’ Review: A Movie Musical Set in a Subway Car? Stand Clear.
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Setting a stage musical inside a stalled subway car sounds like such a natural idea that I’m surprised there hasn’t been a whole bunch of such shows. But after watching the film adaptation of the 2012 musical “Stuck,” directed by Michael Berry, I’m sorry anybody ever thought of the concept at all.

“Everyone has a story like yours within them,” sings the sagacious homeless man Lloyd (Giancarlo Esposito, who, like most of the cast, somehow manages to get through this with his dignity intact). The stories of the five other passengers on the stationary subway car aim to show how, yes, we’re all connected and yes, we all need one another.

The pregnant woman (Ashanti) who intends to terminate her pregnancy needs to hear from the grieving mother (Amy Madigan) who lost her adult son to cancer. The sullen dancer (Arden Cho) needs to learn that the floppy-haired guy who seems to have been stalking her, to the point of following her onto this very car (Gerard Canonico), is not a stalker as such, but a sensitive artist.

And so on. Underneath the ostensible humanism of the scenarios, fleshed out in songs by the playwright Riley Thomas with Tim Young and Ben Maughan, seems to lurk a mind-set more attuned to “Father Knows Best” than “Rent.”

When the characters are singing, you can’t wait for them to get back to talking. And when they’re talking, you can’t wait for them to get back to singing. After a while, you start wishing you were watching that TV ad with a bunch of people on a bus, singing about how they have a structured settlement but they need cash now. That spot gets its point across in less time, and has better music.



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