By Andrew Buckner
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.
Director Steve Blackwood’s fourteen-minute short film, “Stuck” (2020)”, is an all-around clever and well-done comedy. It finds a plethora of successful laughs and a subtle undermining of heart amid its engrossing premise.
Such concerns the goings-on of George (Blackwood) and Helen Simon (Sandy Bainum). They are a couple from New York, employed in advertising, who are thrust into a situation of dire emergency. The duo bought a machine of an erotic nature. It is one meant to enhance their relationship. This is as well as their routine lives. Yet, when the inebriated young delivery guy, Finn (Max Schochet), passes out and becomes unmovably entangled in said device during its installation, the scenario becomes more than a little nerve-racking for the pair. Not only is this because they are unaware of how to get Finn out of the gadget, but also because their overly judgmental friends are on their way for dinner.
The script, from Blackwood and David Susman, does a fine job of telling this tale in an engaging, hysterical, and always credible fashion. It develops the all-too-relatable characters of George and Helen in an equally organic and satisfying manner. This is often through the knee-slapping banter between the team. Blackwood and Susman keep the pace brisk throughout the endeavor. There is not a wasted frame in the storytelling department. Moreover, the humor is successful and witty. The project gets funnier as it goes along. This is with it becoming even more effective in the second half of the production. Blackwood and Susman’s narrative also weave a nice bit of dramatic symbolism with the title word involving George and Helen themselves near the finale.
What also works in the undertaking is the cheery, sophisticated, and stylish opening and closing credit sequences. They beautifully echo the overall tone of the effort. The animation used in these moments is outstanding. Furthermore, the performances are pitch perfect. Blackwood, Bainum and Schochet are excellent in their respective turns. The cinematography is vibrant, and the musical bits are just as good. Blackwood’s behind the camera control of the venture is sharp.
In turn, “Stuck” is masterful on all accounts. It is one of the best and most uproarious brief pieces I have seen all year. I highly recommend it.