A diverse ensemble cast leads the way through song in this original musical from writer-director Michael Berry.
In the heart of New York City are the subways. On this particular day, a group of people enter the rear car. The group consists of Lloyd, a happy go lucky homeless man who loves to perform Shakespeare as a means of panhandling; Sue, a college music professor; Caleb, an aspiring comic book artist; Ramon, a Hispanic man who is working multiple jobs; Alicia, an Asian-born dancer who has put her walls up; and Eve, a woman who finds herself in a very delicate situation.
Everyone minds their own business until all of a sudden, they are stopped due to a police emergency. The six attempts to engage in conversation but they constantly find themselves guarded with their issues. Soon enough, as they wait for the subway to run again, the six people get to know one another and finally, the walls that have guarded their individual lives for so long, begin to slowly crumble as each person finally learns not only about the others, but in the midst of everything, find themselves in the process.
Musicals are quite a fun genre to work with. However, when you add to the mix a dash of realistic drama, then the film can be considered special. Look at the hit Broadway play Rent, which had a film adaptation in 2005. And similar to this film, Rent was set in New York City and had a diverse cast. This film is set in New York City, with most of the film set within the confines of a rear subway car and much like Rent, there is a central diverse cast involved in the film. Based on a Chicago play that would go off Broadway, created by Riley Thomas, Michael Berry crafts a script that boasts a pretty good meshing of revelations and musical interludes.
The cast is excellent in the film in their performances. Giancarlo Esposito leads the way as homeless Lloyd, who seems to end up being the “glue” between his fellow straphangers as he tends to be the one to bring everyone together while each other individual has his or her own reservation. Ashanti plays Eve as a woman who longs for a career only to find herself in a serious situation related to her current employment. Amy Madigan will give viewers a sense of sympathy with her role of Sue, the professor who despite still working finds herself still reeling over the loss of her son.
Omar Chaparro is another character you can sympathize with as Ramon, who is working multiple jobs to make ends meet for his family. This leads into some real-life conversation about race relations and immigration. Gerard Canonico, whose interlude starts as the first of the six’s backstories, is the nervous one of the group as Caleb, who has a bit of a crush on Arden Cho’s dancer Alicia. His song is very interesting as it is about his creation, Magnificent Maggie, a handicapped superhero and actually showing actress Reyna De Courcy play the hero in real-life in Caleb’s eyes. As for Alicia, she is a woman who clearly has issues and tends to be viewed by others as racist but there’s something more deeper yearning to come out. Surprisingly, while Esposito and Ashanti have a background in music and theater, the rest of the cast do their own singing and it’s very impressive for their revelations as seen in their backstories that are performed through song.
Stuck has some good moments driven by the diverse ensemble cast all made with these six characters finding themselves and each other all within the confines of a subway car. The backstory numbers and conversations depict life not only in New York City, but something that happens in every day life as a whole.
WFG RATING: B
Vision Films and Highland Film Group presents a MJW Films production in association with Little Angel Productions. Director: Michael Berry. Producers: Joe Mundo and Mike Witherill. Writer: Michael Berry; based on the stage play by Riley Thomas. Cinematography: Luke Geissbuhler. Editing: Elisa Cohen, Lucy Donaldson, and Jimmy Hill.
Cast: Giancarlo Esposito, Amy Madigan, Ashanti, Omar Chaparro, Gerard Canonico, Arden Cho.