‘The Starling’ Review

Back in 1994, there was a movie that, by all appearances, was a romcom. Starring Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia, When a Man Loves a Woman offered up two successful box office stars and a promise of a fun evening of entertainment.

(RELATED: ‘Safe House’ Review)

Mrs. Cranky and I got robbed.

You see it was almost a documentary for Twelve Step programs. Not that a good movie can’t have conflict and deal with real life issues. But this critically acclaimed movie was a drag through hell and a literal journey through one’s descent into alcoholism and the long, long, LONG road to recovery.

Why do I dredge up this ruined date night from 25 years ago? Well let’s just get into The Starling and you shall see.

The Starling is a Netflix original and is high up on the promoted choices section of the home screen. So in the interest of not spending 40 minutes playing Netflix Dumpster Dive, we agreed to give it a shot. And why not? The Starling features two excellent comedic actors who also have very good dramatic chops – Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd. Both veterans of Bridesmaids have had a great track record in comedies with heart.

Even more impressive was Netflix landing one of my comedy heroes, Kevin Kline, the man who shot A Fish Called Wanda into the comedic stratosphere.

McCarthy plays Lilly Maynard and O’Dowd plays her husband Jack. From the opening, you know something is wrong in their relationship. After following a starling around during the opening credits, we land in bedroom being prepared for a baby. Then next we go into a group meeting at some sort of facility. Both are withdrawn and clearly don’t want to be there. There’s some slapstick and some humor as our protagonists evade the facilitator’s questions.

In an improbable plot twist, the facilitator chases Lilly to her car and recommends she call a psychiatrist-turned-veterinarian friend of hers, Dr. Larry Fine, played heartwarmingly and masterfully by Kevin Kline. For obvious reasons, the first meeting doesn’t go well.

Now we get back to the eponymous starling intertwined with the story. Well it tries to be. The starling isn’t a metaphor for anything as far as I can tell. Nor do its actions seem related to the story. One suspects that the writer wanted to intertwine the two storylines. But we end up with a bird that kind of serves as Bill Murray’s gopher foil in Caddyshack. It attacks her when she works in the garden. She puts up an owl statue to scare it off and it craps on it. She goes to poison it and…well you get the picture.

The bird attacks Lilly, and for unclear reasons, she returns to the vet to treat the cut on her forehead rather than drop by the Kwick Clinic or ER. He treats her and they seemingly strike up a friendship. I say seemingly because the plot clunkily attempts to create a bonding experience between Lilly and Dr. Fine. A couple of scenes later, he’s at her home helping her identify the assault bird. At this point, it’s not clear why he would have done this.

As we approach spoiler territory, I’ll just sum up the rest of the movie: people learn things, healing occurs, the bird is a uniter and not a divider and we feel good.

As I think I will be saying with all these reviews, it’s good entertainment when you’ve already microwaved the popcorn and are just too tired to go out. Also Kevin Kline.

1 comment on “‘The Starling’ Review

  1. Paul Hair says:

    I refuse to believe that they named a character after one of the Three Stooges. Also, “Snow White and the Three Stooges” (1961) would be a good one for you and the Mrs. to watch. Ice skating star Carol Heiss for her, and top-notch comedy for you.

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