I’m wrapping up the final screenings I want to see for Mormon Cinema, which I plan to finish writing in the next few months, and I thought I’d put quick reviews/notices up when I do. It’s kind of a relief to be this close to the end after seeing over 1,000 Mormon-related films since I started in 2000. But last week I finished Shooting Star
which is a rechristening for the original (presumably less marketable) Heber Holiday:
This film, a 2007 “non-Mormon” film (i.e. it doesn’t have any Church-related content) by writer/director McKay Daines (The Dance) went straight to DVD and didn’t exactly receive good reviews. Kevin at LDS Cinema Online is particularly scathing, and not without good reason. Most of his criticisms are spot on, though I’m never sure how to define “bad acting.” (Later in his review he talks about the disconnect between the performances and the subtext–I think he’s saying the subtext is too present, on-the-nose–and that’s a problem of writing and directing as much as acting.) There was a clever connection between the screenplay about a Lohan-esque Hollywood starlet finding herself in the backwoods of Utah and the play-within-the-play, “The Taming of the Shrew,” but Sierra Young (Torrey DeVito) is never shrewish enough to be a real Kate, and one wishes the rehabilitation techniques she encounters (basically kindness and down-home cooking) were a bit more like Petruchio’s methods. Then her emotional about-face would be a bit more authentic, or the goings-on, which never strive to be above a farce anyway, would be a bit more engaging.
Equally troubling is the narrative shift somewhere before the midpoint when Sierra stops being the protagonist and we instead start watching the male lead Tyler (K.C. Clyde). Shifting protagonists is a major deal–see Psycho–and it doesn’t feel like it was really done on purpose here, just that our heroine’s emotional journey had ended so we switched to someone else. I wanted to stick with Sierra and see if we could go in some interesting new places for this old formula, even something like Notting Hill, but we didn’t.
Finally, for a film set in Heber City I was hoping for maybe a slant Mormon reference on the side, but instead a family says “grace” instead of a Mormon prayer. Oh well.