What is Stargirl?
Lest you think that Stargirl seems like the product of a mind who has watched Garden State one too many times, know that the original Stargirl actually came out far before Zach Braff's sad boy-quirky girl quasi-classic. The movie is based on a 2000 novel by famed author Jerry Spinelli of Maniac Magee fame that came out long before culture writers had picked apart and finally buried the trope of the manic pixie dream girl. It's obviously hard not to see Stargirl at least a little in that context. (There's even a screaming into the "infinite abyss" moment.)
The movie, directed by Julia Hart, follows Leo Borlock (Graham Verchere), a 16-year-old who prefers invisibility to making waves after being bullied in his youth for wearing his dead father's tie to school. Suddenly, a new girl appears one day when he's at band practice. She dresses like a rag doll/clown, carries a ukulele everywhere, has a pet rat, and goes by the name of Stargirl (Grace VanderWaal). She seems to know everything about everyone and about the universe. She introduces herself to Leo by singing him happy birthday, though he has no idea how she knows it's his birthday. One day, during a football game, she goes onto the field in a yellow jumpsuit and sings "Be True to Your School," inspiring the team to victory. Without giving too much away, the point of Stargirl is that Stargirl is not actually a magical creature at all, just a particularly attentive, creative girl.
Still, even Hart has trouble getting away from the aggressive adorkability. Hart's an astute director who last year made the underrated Fast Color, a story about women who are actually supernatural, and she has a knack for capturing gorgeous landscapes. Stargirl looks stunning, making use of the Arizona landscape. The frames are flush with color.