Angels in Stardust (NR)

February 21, 2014
By Calum Marsh
Vallie Sue (AJ Michalka), the wistful 20-something hero of William Robert Carey's Angels in Stardust, is a dreamer. She dreams of abandoning her trailer-park home and the irresponsible mother (Alicia Silverstone) whose carousing gets her down. She aspires to be a great writer, "like Agatha Christie," and decamp to the glamour of Oklahoma City. She confides in an imaginary friend, modeled on a TV cowboy, whom she pictures gracing a drive-in theater's long-abandoned big screen. In other words, Vallie Sue dreams in clichés: Her life seems little more than a composite of shopworn thoughts and feelings, as if she were fashioned from spare parts on loan from romance paperbacks and daytime soaps. In fact, Vallie Sue has her roots in a different sort of tripe: Angels in Stardust is an adaptation of Jesus in Cowboy Boots, a novel written and (unsurprisingly) self-published by the film's director. Described, in his Amazon author profile, as "an award-winning writer and director of television commercials," Carey clearly was the ideal candidate for adapting his own work — after all, only its creator could be expected to take it seriously. Now, the film's occasional fits of comic inanity — locals ranting about aliens, conversations about two-headed dogs — are certainly embarrassing. But its attempts at melodrama are outright repugnant. From broaching (and ultimately shrugging off) domestic abuse to murdering a pet cat for emotional effect, Stardust is a catalog of bad ideas. Carey must fancy himself a dreamer, but this one should have remained a dream.

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