MOVIE REVIEW: Stargirl
The latest original movie to come to Disney+ is Stargirl, based on Jerry Spinelli's young adult novel of the same name.
Stargirl tells the story of Leo (Graham Verchere) who found out early in life that in order for him to survive, he must blend into the background and to become ordinary. Then, one day, his world is turned upside down when a girl named Stargirl (Grace VanderWaal) enters his life, adding color and wonder where there once was none. Is she magic or an ordinary girl with a extraordinary personality? Through the film, we find out together.
The message of the film - why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary - is beautiful and resonant to teens struggling to find themselves in the world. It is a sweet romantic teen drama akin to Netflix's To All The Boys I've Loved Before. Director Julia Hart is a skilled indie filmmaker and her wonderful adaptation of his story shows her handiwork.
Verchere and VanderWaal are absolutely perfect together and have an electrifying chemistry. The moment when the two first kiss is an absolute example of how seeing the two of them together can just make you melt. But, when he pleas with her, after she becomes the school pariah, to "be more like everybody else," it is heartbreaking because you know how much her specialness has meant to Leo.
The kids that play Leo's best friends are all great. And the movie features a surprise guest performance by Giancarlo Esposito as Leo's mentor.
The music plays a wonderful part of the movie. It is almost a character in itself, from indie soundtrack pieces from the likes of Big Star to Stargirl's ukulele songs to Leo's and Stargirl's duet. Another character in the film is the gorgeous Arizona desert landscape to which we are treated throughout the film.
I very much recommend this film. To dismiss this movie as being a light and frothy Disney Channel movie is doing a disservice to the film.