When one gets stuck with a group of strangers in a confined place—be it an elevator, a subway train or what have you—it is quite common to feel compelled to break out into song. Not just any song but a song that relays your life story and incredibly intimate, seemingly insurmountable obstacles that prevent you from moving forward.
That obviously could not be further from the truth but it is the essential setup of “Stuck.”
“Stuck” is an original pop musical film about six commuters who get stuck together on a New York City subway. Through the power of music, they learn about each other’s lives and, in turn, have a profound effect on one another. Connecting across lines of race, culture and class in a way that only situations of circumstance or happenstance can create, this will be a day that none of them will ever forget.
The music and songs in the film feature musical styles that are specific to each character—a lyrical and musical extension of their culture, thoughts, story and experience with elements of pop, rap, rock, classical and Motown. Stars include Giancarlo Esposito, Amy Madigan, Omar Chaparro, Arden Cho, Gerard Canonico and musical sensation Ashanti while the film itself was written and directed by Phoenix native Michael Berry
In addition to having made his feature directorial debut a few years ago with “Frontera,” starring Ed Harris and Eva Longoria, Berry has appeared on Broadway and in national productions of “Next to Normal,” “Les Miserables,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “The Whos,” “Tommy” and “Mamma Mia.” Therefore, he knows his way around the musical genre. And it shows.
Because these songs essentially tell stories, you will not likely have a desire to blast them on your car stereo during your daily commute. They are quite catchy but they are more poetic than melodic.That is not a criticism by any means and instead just an attempt to classify “Stuck” in a subgenre different than that of “The Greatest Showman” or “Moulin Rouge.” If any comparison is to be made, it would be to “Rent.”
You may feel compelled to yell at the characters on the screen as each of them eventually clashes with one another. After all, if they simply kept their mouths shut and waited out the delay then a lot of the “debates” (as one character calls them) would not occur and they would all be on their merry way. But that would not allow for much growth—growth that the universe is happily facilitating.
As the lyrics of the first song in the film state, “It’s a common notion that the universe will shove together people who uniquely offer what the other needs. Often these connections are neglected or rejected. But every now and then the universe succeeds.”
It’s a beautiful thought and one that we should heed if we have any desire to escape our self-imposed prisons. People change people. “Stuck” demonstrates this concept remarkably well in the easily digestible form of a musical—a musical that does not have all the razzle-dazzle (thank you “Chicago”) of its big-budget counterparts but manages to sing quite an affecting story.