Title: Angels in Stardust

Directed by: William Robert Carey

Starring: Alicia Silverstone, AJ Michalka, Billy Burke, Michael Spears, Adam Taylor

Running time: 96 min, Rated PG-13, On DVD 03/25

Special Features: Behind the Scenes under the original title: Jesus in Cowboy Boots; EPK; Trailer

Vallie Sue (AJ Michalka) lives with her mother Tammy (Alicia Silverstone) and little brother Pleasant (Adam Taylor) in a trailer park built on the site of an old drive-in theater called Stardust – Tardust now that the “S” is gone. Her mother works in a funeral home by day and trolls for men at night in hopes of finding a meal ticket to get herself out of the crappy life she created for herself and has no guilt about neglecting her children in order to get what she wants.

Vallie Sue has an opportunity to take advantage of a writing scholarship that will take her away from the podunk town, however the thought of leaving her little brother behind is hindering her decision. Her mother feels that she’d be better off following in her footsteps by finding herself a man and getting knocked up as soon as possible. Vallie Sue takes to visiting the worn out movie screen and talking to an imaginary cowboy (Billy Burke) that doles out advise and gives her comfort.

The good: Kids of some teen moms who haven’t yet grown up will be able to relate and hopefully know that it’s okay not to follow in mom’s footsteps; in fact it’s encouraged that they don’t.  Vallie Sue does show that she’s allowed to have dreams and goals and isn’t required as the oldest child to take care of everyone else. There’s more to life than finding a man and getting pregnant.

The bad: Cliches ahoy. How many redneck trailer trash stereotypes can one fit in a 96 minute film? Writer/director Carey was up for the challenge. Mom is a tramp who abandons her kids when her big prize says he doesn’t want kids. All of Vallie’s friends want boyfriends, get knocked up and abused by the boys that show them a little bit of affection.  Her only form of entertainment is hanging out at a burger joint, go to church or stare at some dirt while talking to herself. Vallie Sue is so quick to pack up and leave everything behind when nothing was really stopping her before. I don’t understand how the nosy neighbors didn’t report Tammy to CPS after seeing the kids constantly having to fend for themselves and getting harassed by some rapey rednecks.  Alicia Silverstone’s character is supposed to be 31? They are aware we have eyes, right? The editing was also comparable to an afterschool special with fade outs galore. The cliche flute music when Native American Tenkill (Michael Spears) is telling Pleasant a story under the stars is an eye-roller.

I was first deterred by the title, but then I found out that some sales genius thought it would draw viewers if the original title Jesus In Cowboy Boots was changed so it would get bumped to the top of the list, when this film doesn’t have Angels or any real reference to them.  The Jesus in Cowboy Boots refers to a cemetery headstone that is mentioned maybe twice.  The Billy Burke character is kind of a Christ-like representation, but it may confuse viewers or make them feel duped. This whole film was a cluster of jumbled story lines and ideas that rushes to the finish line and leaves the viewer hanging. There were too many characters without much development. Killing a cat only to reaffirm that the trailer park pervs were evil got a big middle finger from me as well.

Total Rating: D

Reviewed by: JM Willis

Angels in Stardust DVD

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