In Stars Fell Again, the extra-cheesy follow-up to 2021’s decidedly unfunny Stars Fell on Alabama from returning director V.W. Scheich, suffers from many of the same flaws as its predecessor — weak characterization, poor pacing, and a lead couple that’s about as interesting as a stack of wet cardboard.
Now an established couple, Bryce (James Maslow) and Madison (Ciara Hanna), travel to Oregon to spend Christmas with Madison’s family. Unbeknownst to Madison, Bryce intends to propose, but his plans are complicated by the last-minute wedding of Madison’s sister, Harper (Ali Faulkner). Things get even more thorny when the unresolved romantic tension between Harper and her childhood best friend (Drew Moerlein of Blind) causes the bride-to-be to get cold feet.
While the first film had moments that skirted the bizarre and surreal, Stars Fell Again opts to play it straight. The more absurd elements have been toned down in favour of a more typical, grounded approach to a romantic comedy.
Both films are weak vehicles for Maslow, who is a member of the boy band Big Time Rush. Maslow is clearly a talented actor, singer, and dancer — but Stars Fell Again feels more like an audition reel than an actual story about real characters that the audience is meant to care about and connect with.
Once again, the standout moment is a dance sequence. This time around, Bryce and Madison swap tap dance steps while arguing about the future of their relationship. It’s one of the only times in the film that Ciara Hanna gets a chance to really get physical with her performance — and part of the delight is watching her out-tap (and out-perform) Maslow. For most of the film, Madison is relegated to the sidelines as her sister’s love triangle and Bryce’s botched proposal take centre stage. It’s a shame, because Hanna reveals some decent acting chops when her performance has room to breath.
The story, in general, is a wasted opportunity to explore Madison’s character further. The first movie focused on Bryce and his family in Alabama, but moving the location to Madison’s family home in rural Oregon is a chance to learn more about her world and relationships. Unfortunately, Madison’s connection to her sister and parents isn’t explored in depth. She seems to exist only to further the storylines of her boyfriend and sister.
One of my central gripes with Stars Fell on Alabama was the lack of chemistry between the two leads. Less screen time for the leading couple does little to solve this problem. With so few moments that focus on Bryce and Madison, the smaller scenes really matter. Especially since the stakes are higher in this film than the first. Not only does the audience need to buy into Bryce and Madison as a couple, but they also need to believe that they are ready to move to the next stage in their relationship — marriage. Sadly, Madison has more chemistry with the bedazzled jean jacket that she wears to her sister’s bachelorette party than she does with her leading man. We know that the couple is destined for happiness not so much because we see their love on screen but because Bryce tells us about it. This leaves Madison in the margins of her own movie. It’s also a pretty boring approach to storytelling, at least from this viewer’s perspective.
Overall, Stars Fell Again is more of the same thing. Fans of the first film and Maslow’s music might be impressed but, if you’re looking for a date-night movie that’ll bring the laughs, romance, and charm, look elsewhere.
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