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Movie review: '5 Star Day'

A man has an unhappy birthday and tries to find three other people born at the same time he was to learn if they had a bad birthday too to prove that horoscopes lie.

November 02, 2011|By Robert Abele, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Cam Gigandet and Jena Malone in a portion of the movie poster for "5 Star Day."
Cam Gigandet and Jena Malone in a portion of the movie poster for "5… (Breaking Glass Pictures )

There's nothing more dispiriting about a movie than a trust in star magnetism that isn't returned in actual projected wattage. For the astrologically themed "5 Star Day," writer-director Danny Buday invests in bland hunk Cam Gigandet to such an extent that Buday assumes we will be mesmerized by every interstitial action: parking a car and crossing a street, walking across a lobby, lying on a hotel bed and watching television, even paying a highway toll. Twice.

Frankly, it's hard to imagine even George Clooney making such ill-used screen minutes interesting. But the movie around those moments is even worse, a preposterously thin story in which one man's terrible birthday — job loss, stolen car, cheating girlfriend — becomes a quest to blow the lid off horoscopes that falsely promise awesomeness. So poor-me Jake (Gigandet) decides to track down three others born at the exact time he was — a single mom (a strangely edge-less Jena Malone), a nurse (Brooklyn Sudano) and a lounge singer (real-life crooner Max Hartman) — to determine if they had crappy birthdays, too.

This all, of course, leads to an epiphany about picking oneself up, dusting oneself off and you know the rest that any sane person would have arrived at by getting drunk, whining to a friend or simply waking up the next day. But Buday's setup is so tortured and schematic — veering superficially into damsel-in-distress territory and an illness story line, before forcing a romance at the end — that it louses up even the movie's kindness-of-strangers message.

While Gigandet has a nice enough smile as he worms his way into people's lives, he'd rather come off like an affable angel than suggest anything obsessive, stalkery or psychologically broken about Jake's patently weird mission. He's more wandering visitor than answers-seeking leading man. But we know he pays his tolls.

As for Jake's "astrology lies!" theory, when all signs point to a planet-aligning ending that puts everyone on an even emotional keel — no matter who had worse tales of woe — it's a safe bet the zodiac is going to get off scot-free.

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