The most interesting scene in Stars Fell on Alabama involves the lead couple participating in a complicated line dance to a country cover of “Gives You Hell” by the All American Rejects while they squabble over hurt feelings. The scene is vaguely surreal and doesn’t make a lick of sense, but at least its absurdity is moderately compelling to watch, which is more than I can say for the rest of this bland and charmless romantic comedy.
Bryce (James Maslow) is a successful Hollywood agent who returns to his hometown in Alabama for his high school reunion. Not wanting to show up alone, and suffer the pity of his married friends, Bryce convinces his client, the up-and-coming starlet Madison Belle (Ciara Hanna), to go with him and pretend to be his girlfriend. Predictably, what begins as a business arrangement becomes more complicated as the two begin to develop feelings for one another.
While the pacing is uneven (to put it mildly) and the plot isn’t what anyone would describe as logical, Stars Fell on Alabama’s largest issue is that Bryce and Madison just don’t have any chemistry as a couple. They don’t quite fit into the “opposites attract” box, but neither are they so similar that they seem to complete one another. The spark just isn’t there.
The film attempts to put a spin on the usual heteronormative rom-com formula by presenting Madison as the more interested, and assertive, party in the relationship – at least in the second act. This is something that could have been explored in more depth but that seems to be an aspect of her personality that is forgotten in the last act. Unfortunately, the audience isn’t given a very good explanation as to why Madison is so drawn to Bryce. Is it just because he’s good looking? That hardly seems like an adequate reason, as a successful actress Madison would be frequently surrounded by handsome people. Their attraction to one another seems to be something that Stars Fell on Alabama expects its audience to take for granted, without bothering to develop the characters enough for a relationship to be believable.
Of course, all of this might be overlooked if the couple sizzled – but they don’t. It might also be forgivable if Stars Fell on Alabama were funny, which it isn’t.
The film doesn’t seem comfortable or familiar enough with its setting to be a love letter to the south, nor does it seem particularly invested in the relationship between the two leads. Without these things, it feels soulless and hollow. I was left wishing that Stars Fell on Alabama had let itself be, well, weird. One of the reasons that the line dance scene was interesting is because it was ridiculous. There were other silly, non-sensical elements sprinkled throughout, but Stars Fell on Alabama never fully embraces its strangeness. Instead, it opts to take itself seriously as a romantic comedy – albeit one with little comedy to be had and, thanks to the lack of chemistry between the two leads, not much in the way of romance either.
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