5 Star Day
Think You’ve Had a Bad Day?
Maybe you’re like me and have a history of terrible birthdays. Maybe you’re like me and just expect the day to generally stink.
Maybe instead you’re like Jake Gibson and expect your birthday to go swimmingly.
When Jake arises to his shared-apartment live-in-girlfriend corporate-drone world on his blessed day, he’s expecting great things. Why? Because his horoscope has told him to. And life, for him, is already seemingly on an upward swing.
I won’t spoil things for you by going into detail, but let’s just say that Jake does a less than stellar job of interpreting the Delphic oracle that horoscopes tend to be. And when things go spectacularly awry, Jake jets out of town on a mission to debunk astrology.
To do this, Jake decides to track down three other people born in the same hospital at roughly the same time as he was in order to demonstrate that a one-size-fits-all 5-star-day horoscope couldn’t possibly turn out the same for every person “born under the same star.”
In the first act, Jake encounters Sarah, a single mother with CPS problems, and learns that his own personal disasters can seem pretty petty by comparison. In the second act, Jake’s visit with Yvette almost lands him in a psych eval before he learns that matters of life and death carry more weight than mere happiness. And in the final act, Jake drives to Atlantic City for a night on the town with lounge singer / jazz vocalist Wesley, who teaches Jake that things aren’t always what they seem.
Pro-astrology reviewers have noted that 5 Star Day really isn’t about the ways in which the stars influence our lives, or about defending or attacking a particular system of belief. And they’re right. So if you’re looking for a good savage critique of astrology (and I’m not really sure why anyone would be) this isn’t your film. But if you’re looking for an affirmation for your daily visit to that particular page of the newspaper (or your favorite web source), you’re not going to get that out of this film, either.
What really happens to Jake is that he runs afoul of buying into someone else’s system of beliefs—without really grasping, or even having a basic understanding of, what it means to believe something in general. So when that system seems to him to “go wrong,” he has no choice but to blame the system… rather than himself.
But what Jake ultimately learns is that, while we can’t control what “the fates” may deal us from day to day, and while the particulars of systems of beliefs may vary, we do have control over how we respond to what happens to us. And fortunately, Jake’s (rather misguided) response to his zero-star day actually puts him on a path to real spiritual growth, maturity, and even some measure of happiness and contentment. He learns that the purpose of belief is not to magically solve all our problems, but to provide a sail and rudder to help us steer as the wind blows.
At the core of what Jake learns is a principle that’s very biblical in nature. Consider the story of Joseph in Genesis: kidnapped by his brothers, dumped into a dry well, sold to slave traders, framed for rape by his new master’s wife, sentenced to life in prison. But, as one of my church-going buddies loves to retort, “That’s not the end of the story!” What seemed like very, very bad news for Joseph ended up being the salvation of his entire family. All Joseph needed to do was to cling to hope every step of the way. “You intended to harm me,” he was ultimately able to say, “but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.”
This is a very positive and uplifting film that also happens to be very well and sensitively made. The “One horoscope. Four lives. Infinite possibilities.” high-concept storyline imposes a rather clunky structure on the proceedings, but the performances are all engaging and feel like part of a very coherent whole.
Is 5 Star Day a 5-star film? No, I wouldn’t go quite that far. But I like little surprises like this. And it would make a great little date-night movie for Valentine’s Day. Sign me up!
5 Star Day is unrated, but due to language and a little bit of sexuality I’d call it PG-13.
Courtesy of a national publicist, Greg screened a promotional copy of 5 Star Day.