Looking Back at 2010s Films: Stuck (Short Film) (2014)

11 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

Continuing my series of Looking Back at 2010s Films, who says every film I talk about here has to be feature-length? Not me–it’s my series; I’ll do what I want with it! With that said, I’m going to highlight some short films as well, starting with John Hockaday’s award-winning short film “Stuck.”

“Stuck” is a 20-minute short about Spence (Scott McEntire), a door-to-door salesman for glue (yes, GLUE!) whose life is changed when his man-child brother, named Bob (Jay Clark), moves in with his family.

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“Stuck” was Hockaday’s undergraduate thesis film for the film program at the University of Central Arkansas. It was filmed in February 2014, and when it was finished, it screened at the 2014 Little Rock Film Festival in May. The film was nominated for three awards Best Arkansas Film, Best Actor in an Arkansas Film (Jay Clark), and Best Arkansas Director. Hockaday took home the directing award.

I couldn’t have been happier for him, for three reasons. For one, I was also a UCA film student at the time and a year before I would make my own undergrad thesis film. I would often sit it on the film classes to catch up on the progresses of the films being made at the time, i.e. watch rough cuts to see which ones had the most potential.

(Excuse me while I take a moment to shudder my own usage of the word “potential,” a word often spoken to me in film-school. I have an utter disdain for the term now. But you get what I mean.)

Anyway, “Stuck” was a film that I could tell would become something special. And it wasn’t just me–one of Hockaday’s classmates (who shall remain anonymous, even five-and-a-half years later) told me in confidence that he was jealous of Hockaday’s film. (And the classmate’s film was pretty good too.)

For another reason, Hockaday was a very good friend of mine. I used to hang out with him on campus, we’d often chill at his apartment, my nickname for him was “Hockadude,” and we had a mutual love for movies and the art of filmmaking. It was amazing to see my dear friend win the Director award at LRFF, and I knew he was walking on air at the time.

And last but not least, “Stuck” is a very good film. It has a lot of heart to it, it’s very well-made, and it just comes off as the type of feel-good movie that audiences generally feel the need for every now and then.

Now let’s address a certain elephant in the room I brought upon myself in this post. You could argue that because of our friendship, I’m obligated to like whatever film he made for his thesis. Well, he was honest with me after I showed him some of my work at the time, so I had to return the favor. I could have given “Stuck” my highest rating of 4 stars out of 4 when I originally reviewed it. I didn’t–I gave it 3 1/2, which was close enough…because there were a few little nitpicks I had with the film.

And I might as well address them now:

-The character of Spence’s wife (played by Julie Atkins) is barely a character at all, she’s so underwritten.

-Why does Spence’s son (Peter Grant) have two beds (one of which is occupied by Bob when he moves in)? Is there another child we didn’t see in the film? Did he or his parents think it would be fitting to have twin beds? A little nitpick, but it always bothered me.

-As clever as the “stuck” metaphor is, I’m not sure there are a lot of ways to make GLUE funny.

-In the fabulous opening musical number, Spence turns to the camera to express his bitterness in an angry way. In the original cut of the film, Spence maintained his forced giddiness while singing the same lyrics–under the film professor’s advisement, Hockaday brought actor Scott McEntire back to re-record the lyrics in an angrier tone…and I don’t think it’s nearly as funny.

There. I’ve shared the few things I don’t like about “Stuck.” Now I can talk about how awesome the rest of the film is.

And I’ll just power through it:

The opening song is delightful, with impeccable lyrical timing/content (that is, except for the fourth-wall breaking, which could’ve been funnier the other way–that’s the last time I mention that). I also like that there are two different versions of the song, with an acoustic reprise playing during the end credits. The acting is very solid; particularly, Clark is a ball of energy that is impossible to dislike. Jarrod Paul Beck’s cinematography is top-notch. (I’ve seen many UCA-produced films lensed by this guy, and I’ve worked with him many times as well–he always knew what he was doing.) It’s very funny (particularly with the payoff to the introduction of Spence & Bob’s parents’ ashes…even now, I can’t believe Hockaday actually went there). The editing is excellent. I love this line: “WHAT IN THE GREAT STATE OF ARKANSAS IS GOING ON HERE?!” And I love the energy that Hockaday put into the making of this film, from pre-production to post.

You can check out the film on YouTube and see if you agree: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blgWI_jBR8g

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NOTE: Hockaday has since worked behind-the-scenes for studio films such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (post-production assistant), “10 Cloverfield Lane” (assistant visual effects coordinator), and “Star Trek Beyond,” among others.

One Response to “Looking Back at 2010s Films: Stuck (Short Film) (2014)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Looking Back at 2010s Films: ‘Twas the Night of the Krampus (Short Film) (2015) | Smith's Verdict - October 29, 2019

    […] you recall my “Stuck” post, I mentioned that one of the “Stuck” director’s classmates (still anonymous) […]

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