American Dad: A Star is Reborn Review

Stan is mistaken for the reincarnation of an old Hollywood legend while Steve and Hailey get crate trained!

“Turns out that I’m the reincarnated soul of a dead, long forgotten comedy actor, and I’m slated to appear in the final thirty seconds of an old black and white movie with my super-old wife.”

American Dad has poked fun at cinema, and even classic Hollywood a number of times before. Hell, their impressive James Bond parody episode, “Tearjerker” is entirely hinged around the idea. So to see the show once again returning to this well isn’t exactly surprising, even if the material eventually heads into an entirely different direction. Early on we see Stan win some tickets to Hollywood (in a pretty wonderful fashion), with him and Francine taking a pleasant vacation to get away from it all. While doing so, Stan displays some fancy footwork on some loose marbles and ends up attracting the attention of June Rosewood (yes, the June Rosewood of Len Len and the June Bug, that her and her husband Leonard Zane filled out). And, well, not just anyone is capable of catching June’s attention.

While Stan and Francine are sight-seeing and shopping, outside of Hollywood Roger is hell-bent on teaching Steve and Hailey some proper manners after one of his fifty-seven episodes of Bones (“Honestly Roger, I don’t know why you’re still recording ‘Bones.’ It’s not as good as it used to be”) is unceremoniously cleared from his DVR. Naturally, the best solution to teaching them how to change is through crate training, and so it’s not long until Steve and Hailey find themselves enslaved in tiny boxes. As ridiculous as all of this might sound, some of Roger’s best plots have been predicated on the great mix of revenge and nothing at all, so I have no problems with this story. Even if I don’t think that Roger would watch Bones. I could believe that he’d keep fifty-seven episodes of it on the DVR purely because he knows someone would eventually delete an episode and he’d get to mess with them.

As Stan is taken in by June, he gets to enjoy the finer perks in life, like spoon-meat (a delicacy that he did not just create in his head) and getting to yell at an adept maid like Maxine. Fairly predictably, we see that June begins to believe that Stan could be the reincarnation of her late husband, Leonard (his immortal words were, “I shall return,” after all). This builds pretty innocently with Stan reaping the benefits, but when June suggests that Stan help finish Leonard’s long-unfinished picture, “Marble Trouble,” completing the role in his place, he’s a little skeptical. That is until he notices his trademark American flag pin also located on Leonard’s lapel.

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All of this surprisingly works quite well and is always moving quickly enough that the episode doesn’t take a moment to slow down or let any of this start to feel old. It might not be the most inspired development (especially with June suddenly aging decades’ worth of time in seconds in the film), but when Francine figures out what Stan is up to with June, he justifies his behavior by saying they’ve been out of sync all vacation and that this can help them try new things and do what they want on this break. It’s not the best execution of all of this, but it’s at least connecting the dots from earlier on. It’s not long however until Francine is also cast in this crazy film that’s being made and the plot continues to double down on itself. It equally feels pretty generic when Stan reveals that his marriage to Francine is the only thing that’s keeping him from staying with June as Leonard, and so June suddenly tries to take Francine out of the picture.

Back home at the Smith house—and there’s not a lot to this plot really–we just see Roger doing a bunch of pet disciplinary tactics on Steve and Hailey, like creating “fake night time” with the help of a blanket. All while the sounds of Bones play out around them like their prison soundtrack (“And I am Dr. Brennan, the guardian of all bones, everywhere”). There’s a satisfying ending to all of this, thankfully, but the episode still could have done a lot more with this simple premise. Even just a few more scenes on this plot would have helped out a little more. Something promising is reduced to being forgetfully chuckle-worthy.

Frankly, the best thing about this episode is that it doesn’t pull the rug out from under you at the end of all of this. Eventually it’s posited that Stan actually is the reincarnation of Leonard, with Francine being the reincarnation of Leonard’s love from June’s era. There’s a fairly touching sentiment put out there that Stan and Francine are always destined to end up together, and that fate has kept them entwined here. It works a lot better than if the episode just told us that June were crazy, and actually going out on a bit of a limb here pays off. It’s hardly the best episode of the series, but its ending is certainly one that should stick with you.

That and the fact that only you can save Brown Spider-Man!


3 out of 5