Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Stargirl opens focusing on teenager Leo Borlock (Graham Verchere) narrating how his life changed after the death of his father. He and his mother (Darby Stanchfield) moved to Arizona shortly after the funeral. In the memory of his father, Leo started wearing his father’s unusual porcupine tie, until the bullies at his new school destroyed it. Shortly after on his 9th birthday, he received an anonymous gift on his doorstep. That year and every year after, he received an unusual tie keeping him connected to his father.
On Leo’s 16th birthday he meets Stargirl Caraway (Grace VanderWaal) for the first time. This is when Leo’s life changes from an insecure shy boy to someone who gains the drive and confidence to go for what he wants.
Stargirl is exactly the type of movie one would expect from Disney+. It’s captivating and charming but completely bland and forgettable. The best selling novel by Jerry Spinelli seemed to have the magic stripped away and diminished during the transition from page to screen. Stargirl seems to only appeal to the preteen audience, ultimately making me feel bored watching it.
Stargirl looked great with solid cinematography trying to achieve a magical movie that is nice to look at. But it only comes across as an average coming-of-age story with little imagination, leaving the movie in the easily forgotten pile.
The scripting also falls short forcing the film to rely heavily on songs to fill up a high amount of the duration of the film. This becomes obvious as they repeat some songs in their entirety multiple times.
Stargirl serves as a showcase for the America’s Got Talent winner’s vocal talent. But even her talent can’t save this movie from its weak script.
This isn’t a love story, but a story to accept who you are and not to shy away from that. We learn from Leo when he joined the new school he was hiding away in the shadows saying “If I wanted to survive, it was better to lay low. I was gonna have to be just like everybody else. No one would see me. No one would hear me. I was gonna disappear.” He is scared to show his true self, afraid that people won’t accept who he is. Stargirl joins and does the opposite. She doesn’t want to fold and fit in. She wants to be who she wants to be.
This is the strongest attribute for this film. The best selling novel is still taught in American schools 20 years after release. The movie though doesn’t do enough to transcend into real life.
Although the strong singing abilities are the concrete holding this film together, it’s not enough for the movie to fall anything less than underwhelming. For a movie that’s about standing out and becoming your true self, it didn’t really stand out to me.