Mica High is a place where nothing special happens, filled as it is with a bunch of people who are all basically the same. There are still the popular kids and the not-so-popular ones, but everybody just sort of flies under the radar. Nothing fancy. At least, not until Stargirl shows up.
An eccentric, free-spirited junior in high school, Stargirl is unashamedly herself. She carries around a ukulele to break out into song at any given moment, wears the funkiest clothes and is never afraid to say what she’s thinking. And although the students at Mica High think she’s a little strange, they’re all rather intrigued. Especially 16-year-old Leo.
As a young boy, Leo lost his dad. After that, he and his mom moved to Mica, Arizona, for a fresh start. Leo used to be a lot like Stargirl, unafraid to be himself. But years of bullying and feeling like an outsider took their toll. Now, Leo is an expert at blending in. The very thing Stargirl opposes.
A few random encounters later, and a budding relationship between Leo and Stargirl forms. A relationship that pushes Leo far out of his comfort zone and forces him to learn just who he really is.
As a young boy, Leo decided that if he was going to fit in in a new town, he had to learn how to blend in and act like everyone else. And although he did this to “survive” being bullied, it turned him into someone who was perfectly content just skating by. Until Stargirl.
Stargirl, an independent thinker, teaches Leo how to love and appreciate who he is, as she is unashamed of her own eccentric personality. Stargirl also teaches Leo not to give so much weight to the opinions and thoughts of others.
Because of her free-spirit and generally joyful demeanor, Stargirl becomes an encourager of those at her school. The football team begins to win games; and the entire student body feels uplifted just by getting to know Stargirl and listening to her positivity and kindness.
As the story unfolds, we’re reminded of the importance of being comfortable with ourselves. And we encouraged to appreciate that the best things in life take time and are not instantaneous. We also learn to be happy in the present and to love and care for our neighbor and for strangers.
Stargirl, although she never really talks about anything inherently spiritual, does talk to Leo about some of her own thoughts and the way she processes information. She tells Leo that she often meditates in order to rid her mind of useless distractions and be fully present in the moment. You might think of it as mindfulness for the middle school set.
Leo believes Stargirl might be magical. A young boy makes a joke about his school being jinxed.
Stargirl and Leo kiss, flirt, hold hands and sing a love song together. A few girls are seen briefly in cleavage-baring dresses. Cheerleaders wear their typical cheerleading outfits.
At a high school dance, the camera focuses on two young women dancing affectionately together, perhaps implying a same-sex relationship.
Leo talks about how his father died when he was a young child. He gets bullied when he’s young: A group of boys push him on the ground and cut off his tie.
A football player gets tackled and badly injured during a game. We hear that a young boy got into a terrible biking accident and will never be able to ride a bike again.
God’s name is misused once. A young boy is called “dumb.”
Leo’s mom drinks a glass of wine at dinner.
Leo feels as if he’s been forgotten and changes who he is based on what others think.
High schoolers try to ostracize Stargirl and make a few mean comments about how she is different than most of them.
Based on the YA novel of the same name by Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl is Disney’s latest venture into a coming-of-age story.
The movie, just like the novel, focuses on a young girl who isn’t afraid to be herself. And while it’s spun like a love story, this flick is really much more than that. It’s a look at character development and it asks a lot of important questions along the way.
Stargirl’s approach to life can seem superficially New Agey, though there’s really very little that’s actually spiritual when it comes to what she says and does. Still, some parents may be concerned about those elements. A bigger concern will likely be the scene picturing two young women dancing together, and the same-sex relationship that’s likely suggested there.
That’s a disappointment (though it’s a content concern that we’re seeing in more and more Disney products these days) in a film that otherwise includes plenty of nice, positive takeaways here, such as learning to accept yourself and appreciating life as you change and grow.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).