Based on the novel by Jerry Spinelli, ‘Stargirl‘ is a Walt Disney Pictures original drama film directed by Julia Hart and released widely through Disney Plus. I have not read the book, so this review will focus on the film.
Leo Borlock (Graham Verchere) is attending high school in Arizona where he and his mother Gloria (Darby Stanchfield) moved after the death of Leo’s father. After being bullied, he started to “blend in” and joined the A/V club with his best friend Kevin (Karan Brar). On his birthday, a new girl named Stargirl (Grace VanderWaal) shows up and sings him “Happy Birthday” with her ukulele. She is polite, generous, and full of life. She also lives alone with her mother Ana (Sara Arrington). Leo talks with his mentor Archie Brubaker (Giancarlo Esposito), who encourages him to talk to her. Leo further develops a crush on her after she plays a song for her high school football team, propelling them to win and making her the team’s “good luck charm.” As Leo and Stagirl’s relationship develops, he finds himself missing parts of him he left behind.
Verchere and Stanchfield do a fantastic as the main characters. They really do a good job acting in the movie, making it more enjoyable as a teen drama. They both shine in the movie and that is a credit to both their acting skills. Likewise, Julia Hart did an excellent job crafting the story and bringing it to life.
Kudos to Rob Simonsen for the music in the movie as well. It matched the tone and fitted into the plot very well. It has a lot of songs that bring out a sense of nostalgia that is pleasant to remember.
I liked that the movie was set in Arizona. This was a good move by Julia Hart At times, it gets exhausting that filmmakers seem to only think Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or Europe are the only places that exist in the world. This gave it a unique quality seeing the beautiful landscape of the American West where mountains, trees, and beautiful stars fill the sky. The movie did a good of utilizing that environment for its plot.
No doubt the movie will be criticized by mainstream critics for being too “saccharin.” However, I found the movie enduring and wholesome. It was pleasant to watch a film about teenagers that did involve gratuitous sex, drug use, and violence but showed an ordinary group of kids impacted by one person’s act of kindness. It was definitely a breath of fresh air. Obviously, this was a teen flick, so it has all of the drama that comes with being a high schooler. Adult viewers might find this off-putting as a movie, but that is to be expected for this kind of film.
Bottom line, Stargirl is a nice wholesome movie. It shows a beautiful side to life and how a little kindness can bring out the best in people. It is a message that a lot of films, even good ones, often leave out.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Mild thematic elements
FAVORITE QUOTE: It was the first time I had to really think about who I was.
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie review of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made and my thoughts on Disney Plus canceling three shows. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.