Stargirl's messages are positive ones for tween viewers, who will be drawn in thanks to the popularity of the book and the novelty of the film debut of VanderWaal.
So, first things first: the young star gives a charming performance and proves she can act as well as sing. Co-star Verchere and a diverse supporting cast are equally charming. Fans of VanderWaal or the book likely won't be too put off by significant changes to the original story, the film's uneven pace, or some corny magical undertones.
Stargirl could be called the High School Musical of misfits and underdogs. But considering that the majority of real-life teenagers are probably a lot more like Leo, Kevin, and even Stargirl than Troy, Sharpay, and the HSM gang, the film may actually be the more representative high school movie.
There's no shortage of genre staples, including awkward encounters at school, football games, and the obligatory school dance. Stargirl falls into a growing body of films, like the HSM series, that show teens to be kinder, more genuine, and more accepting than the '80s screen teens of their parents' generation in, say, The Breakfast Club or Footloose.
And while their typical teen identity issues are magnified in the age of social media, a minor theme in Stargirl, they're shown here to also benefit from healthier relationships with their parents. That, and the '80s musical references, make the film an okay watch for the whole family.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.