A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Intended messages are about being honest about who you are, that there's no need to try to impress your old friends. Shows lasting power of friendship. Suggests that good friends always have your back. But hero sets up an elaborate lie and uses it to find love, never losing admiration of his community. And frequent comments about "fitness" related to attraction suggest that someone's physical appearance is what makes them appealing.
Positive Role Models
While main character is adamant about maintaining professional boundaries, the film declares that "Rules are made to be broken," and he ends up getting romantic with a client. He also kisses a married woman and is remorseful only about getting caught. He sets up an elaborate lie, with no significant negative consequence. A woman joins an all-male football team, shows that she's a force to be reckoned with. Two supporting characters of color are included in mostly White cast; both are portrayed positively.
Violence & Scariness
Intentionally rough tackle during a flag football game (it's implied that the man being hit deserves it).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Romantic storyline. Passionate kissing. A couple kisses at night; film then cuts to them waking up in bed together wearing only underwear (sex clearly implied). Sexual innuendo. Suggestion that someone's physical appearance is what makes them appealing, with one character continually commenting on how "fit" a man is, letting him know she is also "fit," then coming on to him. Characters "skinny dip" in underwear; both male and female leads get praise about their bodies, and the woman is shot in a "sexy" light. Long scene with shirtless man walking around a room; it's clearly intended to portray his muscular build as physically appealing.
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"Hell" in song lyrics.
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Products & Purchases
To portray Bryce's life as a Hollywood player, movie shows him partying in a limousine, repeatedly offering to pick up everyone's tab, mentioning that he has two Ferraris.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking is glamorized, normalized, celebrated. Booze flows to show Hollywood players at a movie premiere. Ample positive discussion about drinking, buckets of booze are brought out in social situations, a woman is seen as desirable because she challenges a man to a drinking competition, and song lyrics present drinking in a positive light. Story told about someone growing marijuana at a home improvement store as a joke (there are consequences).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stars Fell on Alabama is a "culture clash" romcom about a Hollywood agent named Bryce (James Maslow of Big Time Rush fame) who goes back home to Alabama. He is portrayed as someone who "got out" of his small town and is living what seems like a glamorous life; when he decides to go home, he quickly feels the squeeze of old pressures and the need to be impressive. This leads to some mixed messages. Viewers are meant to take away the idea that your friends will like you for who you are, not who you're dating -- but Bryce doesn't experience any negative consequences when he lies to people and they inevitably discover it. Casual infidelity is a recurring situation: Bryce's colleague brags about cheating on his wife and is seen carousing with women. That's supposed to be problematic, but later Bryce is also seen as an active and interested participant in cheating. There's also some innuendo, and scenes show both Bryce's bare chest and female lead Madison Bell's (Ciara Hanna) lingerie-clad tush. While there's no profanity or violence, drinking is portrayed not just as normal but as aspirational. Characters drink in most scenes, and chugging beers and throwing back shots is shown as making a woman more attractive. People also laugh about one of the characters growing marijuana at work. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
For romcom fans, this might feel like a knockoff; you may have to remind yourself that it's not Sweet Home Alabama, that Hanna isn't Kate Hudson, and that Maslow isn't Adam Levine. It all looks familiar, but it's not nearly as good as stalwarts of the genre. That said, it's not awful, either. And for some teens, it may feel like an evolution of their childhood, since Hanna and Maslow are both former Nickelodeon stars (she used to be the Yellow Power Ranger, and he was the face of Big Time Rush). Now they're are all grown up, and while the idea of attending a 15-year high school reunion may not be totally relatable to kids, the content of the story mostly feels like the stuff of Nick at Nite. The language is clean, there's no real violence, and even the innuendo is fairly scrubbed. Heck, when everyone sneaks out to skinny dip, most of the underwear seen looks like swimsuits (in fact, one woman somehow does have on a swimsuit -- we can only assume she knew where the evening would end up?).
Nothing is especially original here, but sometimes, a tried-and-true formula works just fine. And for a new generation of romantic comedy viewers, "same old, same old" can feel new. Line dancing scenes have been around since Footloose, but Stars Fell on Alabama's all-country soundtrack is likely to be appreciated by many viewers (though kids may not recognize American Idol 2006 winner Taylor Hicks covering the All-American Rejects' 2008 single "Gives You Hell"). The movie feels targeted at the oldest members of Gen Z and the youngest millennials, but with characters who are familiar high school types, there's just enough here to entertain, whether you live in an urban high-rise or a rural farmhouse.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.