Grace VanderWaal sings the song "Be True to Your School" in this exclusive clip from the upcoming Disney+ movie STARGIRL, which debuts on the streaming service on March 13.
“Stargirl” from Disney+ is a tender and offbeat coming-of-age story based on the critically-acclaimed, New York Times’ best-selling young adult novel about an unassuming high schooler who finds himself inexplicably drawn to the free-spirited new girl, whose unconventional ways change how they see themselves…and their world.
Leo Borlock (Graham Verchere) is an average student at Mica High School. He gets decent grades, is a member of the school’s marching band and has always been content flying under the radar. But all that changes when he meets Stargirl Caraway (Grace VanderWaal), a confident and colorful new student with a penchant for the ukulele, who stands out in a crowd. She is kind, finds magic in the mundane and touches the lives of others with the simplest of gestures. Her eccentricities and infectious personality charm Leo and the student body, and she quickly goes from being ignored and ridiculed to accepted and praised, then back again, sending Leo on a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
Stargirl knows how to make a memorable entrance, especially when it comes to her first encounter with Leo. Based on the hit YA book of the same name, Stargirl follows Leo (Graham Verchere) and Stargirl's (Grace VanderWaal) relationship as they try to navigate high school and figure out what it truly means to be yourself despite what other people think. After many years of waiting for an adaptation, fans will finally get the experience Stargirl come to life on the small screen.
In an exclusive clip for Seventeen, Stargirl and Leo finally meet each other for the first time in the school cafeteria. After first seeing her in class earlier in the day, Leo and his BFF Kevin (Karan Brar) are thinking of who to invite next on their their talk show, Hot Seat, where they bring guests on to answer questions. When Kevin asks if they should invite the new girl that everyone is talking about, Stargirl suddenly appears.
After hearing that it's his birthday, Stargirl decides to sing "Happy Birthday" to Leo in the middle of the cafeteria. Despite the fact that he has been trying to lay low his entire life due to the bullying he's gone through over the years, it looks like he doesn't mind the special attention that he's getting from Stargirl.
Ahead of her appearance in Disney+ feature film Stargirl, Grace VanderWaal has released new song “Today and Tomorrow.” Stargirl will premiere on the streaming platform on March 13th.
On “Today and Tomorrow,” VanderWaal tenderly sings of unconditional love over the gentle strum of her ukulele. She details the feeling of falling in love with someone, including all the hope and fears that come along with it. “One day I’ll be old and ugly/Will you still be thinking of me?/If we were as brave as we are now/They’ll catch you thinking of me,” she sings toward the end of the sweet, simple tune.
Stargirl is the 16-year-old’s acting debut, with VanderWaal playing the titular Stargirl. It is based on the 2000 book of the same name, written by Jerry Spinelli, which tells the tale of a unique, quirky teen girl who starts at a new high school only to be shunned by the majority of her peers except for a boy named Leo (Graham Verchere).
After winning America’s Got Talent in 2016, VanderWaal has gone on to release one full-length album (2017’s Just the Beginning) and several singles, including last year’s “Ur So Beautiful.”
After launching in November last year, Disney+ is trucking along with its slate of originals to keep subscribers invested in the service, and the latest is the feature-length film, Stargirl. Based on the 2000 novel of the same name by Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl tells the story of a high school boy who just wants to blend in and the quirky girl who teaches him how to stand out. Like much of Disney+'s other original fare, Stargirl is family-friendly, with an empowering message that may be worth hearing for viewers of all ages. However, this film's message is wrapped in a rather boring and uninventive coming-of-age story. Disney's Stargirl is a mediocre teen movie about individuality and growing up, lacking the magic to make this manic pixie dream girl story work.
Rather than focus on the girl for which the movie's named, Stargirl follows high school junior Leo Borlock (Graham Verchere), who moved to Mica, Arizona after the death of his father and was immediately bullied for standing out. Rather than continue to display his individuality, Leo decided to blend in with everyone else, but once a year on his birthday, he receives anonymous gifts from someone who seems to know and appreciate him for who he is. On his 16th birthday, a new girl arrives at school: Stargirl Caraway (Grace VanderWaal), who has a quirky sense of style, plays the ukulele and tries to be kind to everyone - which makes her stand out. Though Leo and Stargirl grow close, her desire to forge her own path conflicts with his need to stay under the radar, and it remains to be seen if they'll be able to find a way forward together.
Stargirl is directed by Julia Hart (Fast Color) from a script she co-wrote with Kristin Hahn (Dumplin') and Jordan Horowitz (Fast Color). While Hart's direction of Stargirl is honest, and helps to play up the magical realism embedded in the tale, the film's story is bogged down by cliches and struggles to adapt to a modern teenager's mindset. The character of Stargirl seems to be a luddite, with no phone and opposed to the speed of society driven by technology, but she has a hackneyed argument for it that blatantly ignores the ways in which technology and the internet have helped young people become who they are. It's an altogether older sensibility that doesn't mix well with the young carefree nature of Stargirl, and it creates a disjointedness in her character that the movie never manages to overcome. Further, it doesn't help that Stargirl is a perfect example of the manic pixie dream girl trope and neither the film's script nor its directions does anything to unpack or interrogate that cliche; Hart's movie simply perpetuates it.
For her part, VanderWaal is fine enough in the Stargirl role, playing the quirky character with kindness and bringing her own individuality to the role. If she's a little stilted and one-note at times, it seems to be more the result of the script than anything else. Verchere is similarly serviceable in the lead role of Leo. But in the filmmakers' attempts to fill out Leo's world with a diverse array of characters, Leo - and even Stargirl - become the least interesting characters and viewers may find themselves wishing the movie was about any one of the more compelling supporting characters. Still, where VanderWaal and Verchere shine the brightest is in all of Stargirl's musical numbers, which bring a much more vibrant heart to the movie - one it sorely needs. Considering VanderWaal's background as a singer, it makes sense that Stargirl would play to her strengths (Stargirl's own talent for the ukulele is shared by VanderWaal). There's a particular duet between Verchere and VanderWaal that sticks out as one of the movie's best moments, but unfortunately the musical beats are few and far between.
It's the moment we've been waiting for! Grace VanderWaal stars as Stargirl Caraway in the new Disney plus movie coming out Friday, March 13, and we cannot wait! The film is based on the best selling book by Jerry Spinelli and tells the story of Leo Borlock (Graham Verchere), an average student at Mica High School whose life changes when the eccentric new student Stargirl walks into his life. Oh, and did we mention one of our fave 'Jessie' stars Karan Brar is in it, too!
Stargirl may hope to preach individuality and while there are notes of uniqueness to the story - particularly in Hart's direction and VanderWaal's musical abilities - it's ultimately a rather boring and forgettable coming-of-age movie. That's not to say it won't strike a chord with anyone; some viewers may connect with either Stargirl's quirkiness or Leo's struggle to become who he wants to be. That basic truth of growing up is approached well enough in the movie, ensuring Stargirl will teach its young viewers the importance of being themselves. But it's couched in a rather bland and formulaic story, one that frustratingly falls victim to the manic pixie dream girl trope. Since Spinelli's Stargirl was written before that trope was given a name and is arguably part of the trend that gave rise to the manic pixie dream girl, the movie feels dated in a way that the filmmakers can't seem to escape.
As a result, fans of Spinelli's original novel and VanderWaal herself may find Stargirl worth watching to see how it adapts the source material and utilizes the young star's musical talents. Those who already have a Disney+ subscription may also want to give Stargirl a try if they find the premise intriguing - and they've already otherwise exhausted the service. But, unfortunately, if Disney+ is attempting to win over new subscribers with offerings like Stargirl, this movie fails to provide a compelling case for shelling out the monthly fee for another streaming service. Stargirl is the kind of middling fare Netflix is churning out now, and while it may be compelling to some, the film doesn't seem destined to be one of the early hits Disney+ needs in its first year.