Review by Sean Boelman
In a genre that is so frequently defined by forgettable and repetitive fare, it’s not always a good thing for a film to be memorable. Even though Stars Fell on Alabama is mostly familiar in terms of its story beats, it features a few moments so random that one can’t help but be amused by the unintentional zaniness.
The movie follows a successful Hollywood agent who recruits one of his rising star clients to play his girlfriend when he has to return to his rural Alabama hometown for his high school reunion. It’s an “unlikely” love story like the ones we have seen hundreds of times before, making it entirely predictable.
What is perhaps most disappointing about the film is that it is so shallow. Apart from a concluding monologue that paints out the moral of the story in a painfully direct manner, the movie largely ignores any of the manipulation and dishonesty of the characters’ actions, or even worse, makes a joke out of them.
The character development of the film is also subpar. The backstory that is given to the love interest feels like an afterthought, as her solo storyline makes brief appearances throughout only to disappear for minutes at a time. The protagonist’s arc gets much more screen time but is also far less interesting.
James Maslow and Ciara Hanna have decent enough chemistry together, and they both manage to deliver their lines with some element of energy. They managed to take bland characters and mediocre lines and create something unexpectedly charming out of it thanks to their charisma.
That said, even though the movie is mostly conventional, there are some scenes which hint that there may have been a more tongue-in-cheek intention. Ultimately, the clichés and stereotypes undermine anything sharply satirical that the film might have had to say, causing this to feel like a missed opportunity more often than not.
In other parts, it’s almost impossible to figure out who the movie is really serving. The film features a bizarre and confusing cameo from 2006 American Idol winner Taylor Hicks singing a cover of an All-American Rejects song during a spontaneous square dancing musical number. It gets a laugh, but not in the right way.
Stars Fell on Alabama isn’t a very original romantic comedy, nor is it a very good one, but it will catch viewers off their guard just enough to be worth a watch. It’s basically a Lifetime movie with slightly better production values, so it has a built-in audience who will enjoy it.
Stars Fell on Alabama hits VOD on January 8.