Here’s a charmless little nothing riff on “Sweet Home Alabama” starring nobody you ever heard of and filmed in everybody’s second-favorite Beaufort, the one in South Carolina.
“Stars Fell on Alabama” takes its title from a Big Band era ballad, its plot from every laugh-and-heart-starved “high school reunion” romance.
Set in a filmmaker’s fantasy version of Alabama, where line dancing and “breaking into the old school” and racial harmony are plot points, it makes the journey from indifferent to intolerable at a slow saunter.
A Hollywood agent (colorless James Maslow), given to casting “fans” to interrupt Zoom meetings to create buzz around his rising-starlet client (Ciara Hanna, Kaley Cuoco-lite), is taking a weekend to go home to Willow Valley, Alabama for his 15th reunion.
Drawling classmates jab Bryce, aka “Dixie,” for being “33, not married, no kids” and thankfully don’t jump to any same sex conclusions. But Dixie takes the bait, lies about bringing a “famous actress” girlfriend, and next thing you know he’s begging starlet Madison to “play the part” for the weekend.
This timeworn comic situation is hard to screw up — the “begging” bit, I mean. The script and actors render it so bland as to not be worth the bother.
Madison is a good sport about giving up her “Yoga Boxing” for a couple of days, teases Bryce — who is Mr. “Never Mix Work with Pleasure.” She flirts, half-heartedly.
And they go through the generic, never-been-to-Alabama rituals filmmaking outsiders associate with “LA, lower Alabama.”
Will these two crazy LA transplants find a love connection amid all the covers of Philip Phillips’ “Home” and The All-American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell,” “beer chugging, annual tradition” flag football, all the “Welcome to the South” and “ROLL Tide” drawling and boundaries-blind pals of Bryce’s not-remotely-funny classmates?
When Bryce isn’t being pitched scripts or “my granddaughter” the actress, “a natural?”
Even the “twists” in the plot are tired — “TMZ photos,” Madison’s Brit-rocker ex (Zebedee Row, almost funny)., the “big dance.”see
The differences between pretty actors and “stars” are many, but all spin out of charisma and that ability to make a half-written, half-improvised, half-assed scene play cute, funny and/or romantic.
Tell your players stop at a costume shop to do competing Charlie Chaplin impressions, hope for the best and get...nothing at all. Zero spark. No whimsy. No laugh. Not even competent.
“I can’t forget the glamor,” the title tune (never played in the movie) goes. “Your eyes held a tender light, and stars fell on Alabama last night.”
But they never do.
MPA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive material
Cast: Ciara Hanna, James Maslow, Andrew Rush, Lesa Wilson, Jaclyn Betham, Johnnie Mack
Credits: Directed by Sourav Kumar and V.W. Scheich, script by Robert Windom. A Samuel Goldwyn release.
Running time: 1:43