Shooting Star (renamed from the much less generic Heber Holiday for some reason) is a not technically an “LDS film”, as it contains no church content, but does star a host of familiar faces viewers will recognize from other LDS films.
Shooting Star (IMDB, official site) apparently won several awards in minor film festivals around the region before going to DVD without a theatrical release.
That surprises me greatly because — as you might surmise from the grade at top — Shooting Star is a real mess of a movie, one which zooms past “mediocre” all the way to “almost unwatchable”.
Sierra Young is a popular movie star who has “issues” on the set of her latest movie and is sent — more or less against her will — to a “rehab” center in Heber, Utah to get cleaned up. Once there, she escapes (…very, very easily) and runs into some of the locals, including a young attractive college dropout named Tyler who is starting up a local theater.
Even if it were good, I recognize the potential audience who would consider watching this film is small to begin with, therefore there’s probably little point in writing much more about it other than the letter grade and as dire a warning to “stay away” as I can produce. Still, since I sat through the entire movie (even my wife abandoned me), I’m going to give it the full analysis — on principle, if nothing else.
The problems with most bad films usually start at the screenplay level. The writing in Shooting Star isn’t good by any means, but it does have some glimmers of potential — enough to make you think there might have been an adequate movie in there somewhere. The flaws in writing are compounded, however, by some spectacularly bad acting — some of worst I’ve ever seen in a Utah film — and some very questionable directorial decisions.
Shooting Star features a private detective character with an eye-patch. An eye-patch? Are you serious?
Shooting Star features at least five characters with over-the-top accents that are neither realistic nor funny. Included among them are not one but TWO ‘gay European’ stereotypes. I mean, seriously?
Actual dialogue from the film: “There’ll never be anyone like you!” “That’s why I oppose human cloning!” I mean, *seriously*?
Exactly one (1) actor survives the film with his reputation in good shape: K.C. Clyde, who is also good in The Dance and The Best Two Years, and seems to be the only actor with a sense of subtlety or comedic timing. He’s the best thing about Shooting Star — admittedly faint praise. (Honorable mention to Erin Chambers from The Singles 2nd Ward and The Errand of Angels who might have also been decent…if she had any screen-time at all).
Other characters — Sierra’s mom, the clinic boss, Tyler’s would-be girlfriend — are so over the top in their characterizations, it’s almost literally painful watching them act some scenes. What was the director thinking? From a script perspective, Shooting Star is clearly not a farce, nor even really a comedy. The actors seem to be pretending there’s a farce going on behind them, even when there isn’t. I don’t remember ever seeing such a complete disconnect between the writing style and the directing style…and the writer and the director are the same person!
Sorry, this film goes way beyond my capacity to be charitable. Skip this one.
Final Grade: D+
Additional Comments and Analysis:
(1) Heber Holiday/Shooting Star made a few minor headlines in 2007 when Lindsay Lohan ended up going to “celebrity rehab” in Utah right before the movie’s release, in a similar way to this film’s young, popular movie star main character. An interesting coincidence, but just a coincidence, say the filmmakers, as the movie had apparently already started shooting by the time Lohan’s trip to Utah occurred.
(2) You can see ads for The Dance, a much better film starring many of the actors of this movie, placed at strategic locations throughout the first section of the movie. Go watch that one instead.
(3) Insult to Injury: Former NBA player Thurl Bailey plays a character from Congo named “Mutumbo” in the movie — presumably he’s supposed to represent former NBA player Dikembe Mutumbo who is actually from the Congo — but is misspelled “Mubumbo” in the closing credits. That’s actually pretty symptomatic of the entire film.
(4) Not that it matters with the host of other problems, but the film is never quite clear what Sierra’s “problem” really is. Being sent to “rehab” — especially involuntarily — suggests drug use, and Sierra is said to be “completely wasted” in one scene. (However, I venture to say that from how this scene is presented, neither the actress playing Sierra nor the filmmakers have ever actually seen anyone who abuses drugs).
And once Sierra leaves ‘rehab’ (within 24 hours of arriving), she shows no signs of withdrawal, nor any other personal issue related to drug use. (Even her temper magically improves!)
Barring drug use, the options are limited. For all the talk from other characters about Sierra’s severe “personal problems”, it looks to us like she just stays up late at night a lot, and has some family issues with her mother. Generally speaking, those don’t require “rehab”, especially one requiring a multi-million dollar movie production to be shut down.
(5) The comments on Netflix really tell the story:
- (1 star out of 5): “Getting any movie made is an uphill battle at best. But some uphill battles shouldn’t even be tried. the characters are one dimensional which matches the complexity of ideas in the script. The production values are good but can’t disguise the fact that ‘Shooting Star’ only deals with stereotype characters in a stereotype situation.”
- (2 stars out of 5): “This str8-to-DVD film, sporting one of the weakest British accents…a too-obvious, seen-it-before plot, feeble acting (the best friend — Erin Chambers — was cute, though) and middling production values.”
- (1 star out of 5): “A real “clinker”[sic]. Poor acting and the timing and pace is off. Cannot recommend this movie to anyone.”
- (1 star out of 5): “Sometimes you take chance, and put straight to DVD movies in your queue with the hope that it will surprise you. Every now and again you get luck and find a real winner. Shooting Star isn’t it! The movie is filled with bad acting, poor timing, and a hopeless “been there done that” story line. I actually had to shut it off and come back to finish it later! Don’t waste your time… this movie was a disaster start to finish!”
- (1 star out of 5): “Believe the one star reviews here. … This is another where the Director, and the Actors should be taken out and flogged.”
- (1 star out of 5): “Couldn’t even finish watching it. It is one of the worst movies I ever saw…..”
- (1 star out of 5): “A bunch of actors making fools of themselves. What a waste!”
And, no, I didn’t cherry-pick just the bad reviews — these are literally ALL the reviews for the film from all Netflix users. (Looks like Erin Chambers can take complete credit for the lone second star.)