Stargirl Parent Guide
Great messages about self esteem can get lost in a movie that fails to give its female hero any kind of character depth.
Parent Movie Review
After his father’s death, Leo Borlock (Graham Verchere) and his mom (Darby Stanchfield) move to Mica, Arizona for a fresh start. Following a traumatic bullying incident, Leo decides that it is easier to blend in with the crowd and not draw any attention to himself. On his sixteenth birthday he meets Stargirl Caraway (Grace VanderWaal), a quirky girl who is unapologetically herself. As they get to know each other, Leo learns what it means to be yourself and not care what other people think of you.
Stargirl is based on a bestselling novel of the same name by Jerry Spinelli published in 2000. I have not personally read it, but I do remember it being popular when I was in elementary school, which shows how long ago that was. Though the movie adaptation does try to modernize in some ways, it still feels its age. I doubt that today’s teens will be able to relate fully to the characters and situations, as high school has changed dramatically in the last two decades. Much of the plot is unrealistic and the teenage characters make choices and interact in ways that don’t feel authentic.
One element that has really not aged well is the character Stargirl. She is the epitome of the manic pixie dream girl. Everything she does and says is quirky but also aloof. She is always the wisest person in the room, and acts like the fact that she stands out makes her better than everyone else. Her only purpose in the story is to provide character development for Leo and then disappear. There is no hint at her internal life or struggles; she is only what Leo needs her to be, which is perfectly summed up in the song Leo sings at the climax, a cover of “Just What I Needed” by The Cars, which prominently features the lyrics, “I guess you’re just what I needed”.
Despite these complaints, it’s worth noting that the film’s overall theme is figuring out who you are and learning to be ok with standing out from the crowd - which is a message we’re all happy to share with young people. Seeing actual teenagers play teens is also refreshing, instead of the 20-somethings who are often cast in these roles. The musical elements are well done, especially Grace VanderWaal’s singing and ukulele playing.
Overall, Stargirl is a sweet, family-friendly coming of age story, though it does show its age in the depictions of teenagers and especially in its main female lead. It might not shine as brightly as it could, but it does manage the occasional twinkle.
Stargirl is currently streaming on Disney+.Directed by Julia Hart. Starring Darby Stanchfield, Grace VanderWaal, Gincarlo Esposito. Running time: 107 minutes. Updated March 27, 2020
Watch the trailer for Stargirl
Rating & Content Info
Why is Stargirl rated PG? Stargirl is rated PG by the MPAA for mild thematic elements
Violence: A football player is injured during a game, no blood shown.
Sexual Content: A teen couple kiss a few times.
Alcohol / Drug Use: An adult woman drinks wine at dinner.
Page last updated March 27, 2020
Stargirl Parents' Guide
Stargirl helps an injured football player from the opposing team, even though her classmates get angry at her for it. What would you do in that situation? Should we help people even when they are on a different side than us?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
The novel that inspired this movie is Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. It also has a sequel, entitled Love, Stargirl.
Julie Murphy’s novel Dumplin’ tells the rollicking tale of Willowdean Dixon, whose weight is a constant disappointment to her beauty queen mother. As her self esteem begins to falter, Willowdean decides to take the ultimate risk – entering a beauty pageant.
If we were all the same, life would be boring. Learn about the diverse women who changed the world in Becca Anderson’s The Book of Awesome Women: Boundary Breakers, Freedom Fighters, Sheroes and Female Firsts.
The most recent home video release of Stargirl movie is March 13, 2020. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
Social awkwardness reaches new levels with Napoleon Dynamite. Napoleon is floundering at school until he makes friends and gets brave enough to try new things.
Two friends discover that their strengths and weaknesses balance each other out in The Mighty.
Rats are supposed to like eating garbage but this young rat wants to be different. Ratatouille tells the story of his quest to become a chef and create world class cuisine.
Being different can actually be a good thing, as a bright young girl learns in Matilda.
Shy and awkward, Kayla struggles to fit in socially in Eighth Grade. This film is R-rated, so parents might want to preview it before watching with their older teens.