The romantic comedy is my favorite genre, and because I have watched so many, I have developed quite a discerning eye for what’s good or bad in the rom-com world. So where does director V.W. Scheich’s Stars Fell on Alabama fall? Well, it’s not an absolute train wreck, but it’s not exactly good either. James Maslow (“Love Exclusively”) is Bryce Dixon, a Hollywood agent who returns home to Alabama for his high school reunion. His friends corner him about his date, which compels him to lie that he will be bringing Madison Belle (Ciara Hanna, “The Call”), who is actually one of his clients. Bryce has a thing for Madison, but has never done anything about it because he’s so professional. He’s also a workaholic.
The friends are excited and unable to keep secrets, and news of this spreads quickly, which prompts Bryce to ask Madison to do him a favor and come home with him, and pretend that they’re dating. Madison is initially reluctant, until she realizes that she needs the escape from her on again/off again boyfriend Zane Thomas (Zebedee Row, “Ghost in the Graveyard”), so off they go to Alabama. The pair basically do everything that you would stereotypically associate with the setting — indulge in barbecue ribs and fried food, participate in line dancing, and play a friendly game of flag football.
Of these clichéd scenarios, I enjoyed the line dancing segment somewhat, since everyone was grooving to Taylor Hicks performing “Gives You Hell.” I had always wondered what happened to that guy after he won American Idol, and now I know — he’s in this movie. The rest of Stars Fell on Alabama crawls by, with none of the charm that is necessary for this romancer to tread water. Maslow and Hanna have no chemistry together. They are both very good looking, but their relationship is flat and unbelievable. Maslow’s Bryce has more of a connection with his high school ex-girlfriend Rachel (Lesa Wilson, “The Baby Proposal”) than his supposed love interest. It is strange, since Maslow has a funny bone, as those of us would know if we grew up listening to “Big Time Rush” and watching the series on Nickelodeon, but it isn’t really on display here.
There are also running gags that are just not funny either, like Bryce being constantly pestered by his English teacher to read her script, or his inability to use “y’all” like every Alabamian. In this genre, it is standard to create obstacles for the main couple to overcome, but the impediments created here are not organic and so contrived. These obstacles should be a natural thing in the process of the relationship, not, as an example, the mayor’s wife trying to stir up trouble with a make-out session at a car park. And whenever there is a complication, the other person mopes for a few and soon thereafter gets over it without skipping a beat. Thus, when they do eventually get together (as is usually the case with a rom-com), it doesn’t feel earned.
At the end, I didn’t believe Bryce when he spoke about having roots in his hometown — the dude looked beyond happy to be leaving soon. Me? I was happy that the movie was over, so I could move on from the hour-and-a-half I spent on this that I would never get back. The soundtrack was good though; lots of country music from indie groups to aurally entertain. Otherwise, there weren’t many stars in Stars Fell on Alabama for me to be dazzled by.