THE Starling isn't as disastrous as some critics have written. Rotten Tomatoes has the comedy-drama languishing with a 21 per cent rating with much of the criticism falling on Matt Harris' overly-sentimental screenplay.
Much of that isn't fair. But The Starling isn't entirely great, either. It feels like a missed opportunity.
All the ingredients are there. A fabulous cast led by Hollywood comedy queen Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, The Boss), Irishman Chris O'Dowd (The IT Crowd, The Sapphires) and the legendary Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda, Dave) and a grown-up story about how couples process grief.
Unfortunately the clunky metaphor of a territorial starling protecting its young and learning how to fly again is used too overbearingly as McCarthy's character Lily attempts to rebuild her life following the death of her baby daughter and her husband's (O'Dowd) subsequent suicide attempt and admission into a mental health facility.
Even worse is the abundance of melodramatic music in The Starling's more emotional scenes. McCarthy and O'Dowd are capable actors and the heavy strings only hinder the drama and leave it wallowing near Hallmark Channel territory.
Kline is brilliant in his limited scenes, but his character's role as a former psychiatrist come vet helping Lily navigate her grief goes nowhere.
McCarthy is highly capably in a serious role and she provides some of her trademark comedic flourishes, particularly in the scenes where she's being dive-bombed by the angry starling.
At its heart The Starling is about how people react differently to tragedy and how coping with grief can either destroy relationships or bring them closer together. While the execution could be better, The Starling still offers an important message.
STARS WARS VISIONS
I GENERALLY dislike anime, but I love Star Wars so I was willing to give the new Star Wars Visions spin-off a chance.
Basically it's a series of 14-minute stand-alone episodes allowing Japanese anime creators to bring their own sensibility and stories to the George Lucas' ever-expanding galaxy. It's fair to say it's hit and miss.
For example the episode The Duel blends samurai culture with Star Wars mythology to craft a dazzling story about the protection of a quaint village from a Sith lord.
However, other episodes are less elegant. In Tatooine Rhapsody a rock band, Star Waver, attempt to win over Jabba The Hutt after their green slug bassist is captured by the bounty hunter Boba Fett. It's sadly more Sailor Moon than Star Wars.
STAND UP COMEDY DROP
WE could all do with a laugh right now after months of lockdown.
Paramount+ has been scant on Australian content since its launch but that's about to change with the Stand Up Comedy Drop, featuring specials from some of our funniest homegrown talent such as Tom Gleeson, Celia Pacquola, Lano & Woodley and Anne Edmonds & Lloyd Langford.
Gleeson's performance is taken from his five-star-reviewed Lighten Up show earlier this year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.