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No, this film isn’t about the DC superhero, Courtney Whitmore. Rather, this film is an adaptation of a Jerry Spinelli novel of the same name. Directed by Julia Hart, Stargirl debuted on Disney+ in March 2020. Do I think it’s a film deserving of a star or not? Read on to find out!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The film begins with narration by Leo, a high schooler, played by Graham Verchere. His father died when he was young resulting in him wearing his father’s porcupine tie to remember him by. Leo soon starts to receive ties for his birthday from an anonymous person. This tradition has continued up until the present day. On this birthday, a new student who goes by Stargirl, randomly approaches him during lunch and serenades him with a Happy Birthday song.
Leo becomes instantly smitten with Stargirl, played by Grace VanderWaal, in he film debut. He tries to find out more about her life by following her home from school (it sounds creepy when I type it out) as well as by asking his friend and mentor, Archie, played by Giancarlo Esposito, about her. Archie runs a dinosaur camp where Leo works at during the summers and Stargirl apparently went there too.
Leo learns that Stargirl was homeschooled her whole life up until now which explains why he never saw her before. He continues to follow her home from school (again this sounds super creepy when I type it out) and she catches him one day. Well, she apparently caught him from day one and wanted him to talk to her and get to know her. The two kick it off right away and start spending more time together. They go for walks together, share their opinions, etc. She also becomes the informal good luck charm for the school’s football team (after singing to increase their morale) and even becomes an honorary cheerleader.
Her selfless, positivity-spreading demeanor is also showcased by many secret good deeds she does for people without them knowing. She and Leo eventually become a couple and start dating. Everything seems to go well until one football game where a player from the opposing team gets injured. Despite not knowing who he is, Stargirl rushes to his side to comfort him and accompanies him to the hospital in the ambulance.
Now, this is where the movie starts to make absolutely no sense to me! Up until now, this film was pretty lacking in plot and was more of a basic, casual look at a high school romance. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I could tolerate it. Now, somehow or the other, everything just turns completely upside-down after Stargirl consoled that player! The whole school starts to view her as a traitor, Leo starts to doubt her, the football team starts losing games, etc. Stargirl is even blamed for some of her good deeds that she’s done because of unintentional consequences that succeeded them! All Stargirl wanted to do was offer some support for an injured player and literally all heck is breaking loose in this school and community! And I don’t get it! Am I just old? What the heck’s going on here???
Alright, calming down. Eventually, Lou and Stargirl patch up, but she’s still snubbed by everyone else at their school. She decides to become more “normal” and starts going by her birth name, Susan, and dressing less “Stargirl-y”. She represents her school at a speech competition and struggles at first until she realizes she needs to let go of the “Susan” persona and be Stargirl again. She ends up winning the competition bringing a trophy back for her school’s trophy cabinet.
The school dance afterwards is the last place that Stargirl is seen before she disappears. Leo discovers that she and her mother have moved away and that she was the one who used to give Leo ties. She would collect information about everyone in town (again this sounds more creepy when I type it out), mainly from the kids who would attend the dinosaur camp, and use what she learned there to try to make their lives better anonymously. Stargirl’s story ends up becoming a legend at the school with many students questioning if she ever existed or not.
And that was Stargirl! And sorry, I’m just not a fan. Like I said before, had this just been a basic, casual high school romance film, I could have tolerated it. But the way it instilled conflict just made absolutely no sense to me! Even its message of being yourself seems to be taught in a very confusing way! I’m not familiar with the novel to say whether or not this was a true adaptation, but it was definitely frustrating! I will say though that Grace gave an excellent performance for her first film! And Graham was pretty good too; if he never wins an acting award, he’ll definitely win one for Best Smile!
One thing that I didn’t mention about this film is that it is a jukebox musical featuring songs such as Be True to Your School, Thirteen, and Just What I Needed. I wasn’t particularly fond of any of the song choices, but they could have been worse.
A sequel entitled, Hollywood Stargirl, is in production and I can only hope that it’s better than this film.
So, my final score for this film is 20/35 = 57.14% (F) !
The next review will be posted on August 31, 2021.