Movies From the Black Lagoon: Stuck

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Stuck - 2007,Rated R

A real life tragedy inspired this black comedy, which focuses on a young woman who accidentally runs over a homeless man but then compounds her problem by failing to report the incident.
The film opens by introducing us to two characters, Brandi and Tom. We meet Brandi during a routine day at her nurse's assistant job where she is seen administering to the needs of elderly patients. She's a natural whose talent has been spotted by her boss who promises her some consideration on promotion.
Next we drop in on Tom but his life isn't going as well. He's in the midst of being evicted from a cheap hotel whose owner refuses to let him take any of his things. Tom takes advantage of a distraction to grab a suit and a cherished photo before taking off. We learn that Tom had been employed for his whole adult life but was recently downsized and is down to his last thin dime. Still his life appears to be headed for better things with a hint at future employment and some kind words from a homeless veteran who steers him towards a safe place to sleep.
Next we see Brandi out on the town with her thuggish boyfriend, Rashid. They happily ingest drugs and plan to meet again later in the evening but Brandi's carefree agenda takes a downturn when she runs over Tom in a crosswalk (while talking on her cell phone of course so maybe we should all take those "Hang up and drive" bumper stickers more seriously). She doesn't help her situation by fleeing the scene, which turns out to be bad news for Tom, who's planted in her windshield. She actually makes it home and parks in her garage where she leaves Tom while trying to work out how to deal with the problem. She informs Rashid that she hit a pedestrian and he panics until he hears that the guy was homeless. He then informs her that she'll be fine and that no one will care though he doesn't know that Tom is still embedded in said car.
Brandi almost calls for help but is too consumed by fear to make a decision and eventually enlists the aid of Rashid in getting rid of her problem. Meanwhile Tom manages to extricate himself from the car but is too injured to escape and must soon face down the hulking Rashid if he's ever going to get medical aid.
What follows is a bit of cat and mouse games as Tom refuses to go quietly and several people will die graphically before this tight thriller rolls to its conclusion. There is some rough going ahead but rest assured that the film manages to be somewhat uplifting and patient viewers will be rewarded with a righteous ending that, sadly, doesn't match how this situation actually ended.
In real life Chante Mallard, of Fort Worth, left Gregory Biggs to die in her garage, it took two days. She was caught and convicted and was later sentenced to fifty years in jail. Director Stuart Gordon crafts a more uplifting ending here and manages to give this murky melodrama plenty of zip via tight editing, excellent actors, and a terse script.
Stephen Rea, The Crying Game, manages to give Tom a mountain of dignity despite the fact that he spends most of the film impaled on a windshield wiper. Mena Suvari, American Beauty, is well cast as the morally ambiguous Brandi. She looks the part of a rough party girl (she rocks some serious corn rows) and would seem well suited for a Jerry Springer Show panel (knowing that guy he's already done a show on women who run down dudes). The break out actor here, though, is newcomer Russell Hornsby as Rashid. His bulky presence turns out to a facade and the guy becomes a deer in the headlights when real trouble brews and it's a joy to watch his street savvy bravado come unglued. There's an obvious message here and it's high time that people got hip to the fact that homeless people often don't choose that lifestyle. In larger urban areas people become desensitized to the presence of the less fortunate and that point is beautifully delivered here when Brandi loses her temper and screams at tom "Why are you doing this to me" when it's hardly his fault that she didn't notice him in time to avoid the whole situation.
Best Line: "Yeah, but you didn't say that hit a guy and brought him home with you."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@pennswoods.net.