A horoscope predicts that for people born on a certain date, those people will have a "five star day." In other words, great and spectacular things will happen for them on that date. On any particular day, there are hundreds, if not thousands of people who share a birthday, and subsequently will share a horoscope, and there's no way that all of them will have great and spectacular things happen. The probability is simply never in horoscope's favor.
Cam Gigandet (Never Back Down and Priest) who plays Jake Gibson says early in this movie that 75 % of newspapers have a horoscope column, and, according to FOX News, 29 % of Americans say they believe in astrology, despite scientists classifying it as superstition.
Horoscopes are an aspect of astrology. Yet, despite having the same, last four letters as biology, geology or sociology, astrology is actually not a true science. Why anyone, let alone 29 %, would put any stock in it is simply silly.
Jake's mission therefore is to prove that it's silly. He has a presentation in college to give and the central argument for Jake's presentation is that astrology and horoscopes are bull crap. It's a central argument that actually isn't difficult to prove. In fact, it already has been proven. Scientists have done so long ago.
Nonetheless, horoscopes are still printed in newspapers. 29 % still believe in them. I think the bigger question here is why. 29 % is not a small number. It's a significant one, so the question is why would a significant number of people believe in something that is proven bull crap.
Writer and director Danny Buday in his debut feature is on the surface trying to show why horoscopes are hogwash, but really Buday is getting at why that doesn't matter. Typically, horoscopes list good or positive things. Typically, they predict five star days. They normally don't predict zero star days. Typically, horoscopes are not horror filled.
Regardless if it's hogwash, people want or need someone or something telling them it's going to be okay or that they're going to be okay. That's why Buday's main character may be a walking contradiction. He's out to prove that astrology is asinine, but, based on the things he does, his interactions, Jake himself becomes a horoscope for the people he encounters.
Considering where the movie starts, you'd think Jake would be the last person that one would associate as a human horoscope. Jake begins in Berkeley, California. Buday opens with a shot of the heavens, the stars and the cosmos. Then, the zodiac, the imagined celestial circle, dissolves into the circle of a washing machine window, as Jake stares into it.
It's night time on a Friday, and we don't realize it at first, but it's the end of Jake's birthday, possibly the worst birthday he's ever had. It's a bad birthday, despite his horoscope saying he'd have a "five star day." His insane, immediate impulse is to hop on a plane and head to Chicago, the city of his birth and find a series of people who share his birthday, his birth town and roughly his birth time. He wants to find them to see if they've had as bad a birthday as he did.
He finds three of these people. Two of which still live in Chicago and the other who lives in Atlantic City now. The two in Chicago are women and the one in Atlantic City is a man. Jake visits the women first. He meets Sarah Reynolds, played by Jena Malone. Reynolds is a single mom whose son has a drug addict for a father. Jake surprises Yvette Montgomery, a social worker, played by Brooklyn Sudano. Yvette suddenly stops driving and takes the train to work everyday. Lastly, Jake goes to see Wes Henderson, a singer, played by Max Hartman. Wes loves jazz and is a definite crooner headed for Broadway but who landed on the boardwalk instead.
Jake approaches all these people cold. He's a complete stranger to them. Yet, he gets them all to open up about personal things in their lives. He basically, in a brief time, befriends all of them. I suppose it helps that Gigandet is a handsome and charming blonde, but, since he shares birthdays with all these people, his curiosity is if they had as bad a day as he did.
Again, if they've had a bad day or not isn't the point. Everyone has something that is troubling that they have to handle. Sometimes, people look to outside forces for help or guidance or reassurance. In a way, that's what horoscopes are. Horoscopes are hope. They're also connections, not just to the cosmos, but perhaps to something deeper within ourselves to give us strength to get through bad days.
Jake is like that for these three people, even if he doesn't consciously realize it, but, throughout the movie, you get the feeling that maybe he does realize it. Whether it's someone like Sarah who's scared of losing a person close to her, or it's someone like Yvette who's scared of causing a person to lose someone close, or whether it's someone like Wes who's scared of losing himself, Jake offers help or guidance or reassurance.
His personality, his demeanor, is one that easily connects with people. Gigandet, as an actor, fits comfortably in this role. This quality has come through in other roles for Gigandet, most recently, in Burlesque, but that quality, that compassionate and empathetic quality, is most evident here. Buday makes great use of Gigandet in this fashion. Buday also makes great use of his locations, which take Gigandet from one side of the country to the other, and in between enlivens with really interesting, if often sweet and touching, moments.
Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but Recommended for 14 and Up.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 37 mins.