Why ‘The Starling’ is an epic mistake
Can we do a collective intervention on behalf of Melissa McCarthy’s career?
Yeah, you can’t blame her for pulling it off of that Gray Ghostbuster Costume Back in 2016, but several of her recent picks have proven disastrous. Last year alone she found DOA in her two comedy films – “Superintelligence” and “Thunder Force”.
Now, she’s front and center on “The Starling,” designed to honor more than a few “Worst of 2021” lists, including this critic’s list.
McCarthy plays Lily, a happy married woman preparing for her first child with husband Jack (Chris O’Dowd). Shortly thereafter, we revisited the couple, following the death of their daughter Katie.
Jack lives in a mental institution after an attempted suicide. Lily passes in motion, poorly, at the supermarket where she stockpiles shelves. Its boss plays the great Timothy Olyphant of “justified” fame, transcending his flaky nature to a level worth swinging at.
Their lives have been shattered, which is understandable. It’s the way they try to get their marriage back, and any sense of happiness, that defines the drama.
“The Starling” isn’t “Bridesmaids” or “The Heat,” but the movie is constantly jotting over the moments that make us smile. The job is rarely done. The tune, set by “Hidden Characters” director Theodore Melffy, is a wink, a nudge, all balanced against the couple’s harrowing plight.
Suffice it to say, this formula would tax any director’s talents, as well as an excellent cast including Kevin Kline. He should have leaned on his legendary title, Kevin refused, This time.
McCarthy and O’Dowd suggest a real couple in crisis, each with one or two scenes that capture their grief. Otherwise they would struggle against corn ball stuff, doing everything they could to preserve their dignity.
We might need a new Oscar category for the best ability to rise above frosty stuff.
– The Christian Post (@ChristianPost) September 17, 2021
And then we have the title character, a feisty bird who can’t stop harassing Lily as she tries to grow her personal therapy garden.
The bird attacks it again and again, a clumsy metaphor that goes beyond its 30-minute welcome. It may be the most difficult plot device in recent memory. It gives McCarthy, the stand-up comedian, a chance to fall off the stairs and charge a birdie in an oversized soccer helmet.
It’s never funny, although it’s pathetic.
Klein shows what a movie star can do with a terribly imagined role. He plays Larry Fine (get it??), a shrink vet who uses both sets of skills on Lily and attack birds. Every reading of Kline’s font is melodic, and it makes you wish Hollywood could put it to better use, and quickly.
He’s definitely not in the making of “The Starling” fly. No actor has the chops to do the impossible.
hello or miss: “The Starling” means okay, but its mix of melancholy and yuck is literally disastrous.