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Film / Stargirl

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Stargirl is a 2020 romance film based on the 2000 Jerry Spinelli children's book Stargirl.

Stargirl is a Coming of Age Story about an average American high schooler who finds himself drawn to the new girl at school: a free-spirited and unconventional girl who calls herself "Stargirl".

The film was made available on Disney+ on March 13, 2020. The trailer can be viewed here.

At the end of 2020, a sequel was announced, called Hollywood Stargirl, to begin filming in May 2021. The film was released on June 3, 2022. While the first film was based on a book, Hollywood Stargirl is an original screenplay from Julia Hart (Fast Color) and Jordan Horowitz, the former of whom directed both films.

In May 2023, it was announced that Stargirl would be purged from Disney+ on May 26, with director Hart confirming that Hollywood Stargirl would be removed as well. Both films would be made available for digital sale the following October.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Leo's dad was alive in the book, and his porcupine necktie was a gift from his uncle. In the movie, Leo's dad dies and he wears the tie in remembrance of him, but when he wears it to school, some bullies beat him up and destroy his tie, so he stops wearing it.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the book, the school's football team was called the Electrons, in honor of electronics being the town's primary industry. The movie changes it to the Mudfrogs.
  • Adapted Out: Senor Saguaro, the 30 foot tall cactus outside of Archie’s house. There’s not a whole lot lost, aside from a bit of symbolism in regards to Archie’s fate in the years following the events of the story.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Here it's Stargirl who temporarily breaks things off with Leo rather than Leo dumping Stargirl due to the negative impact dating her has on his social life. Leo and Stargirl’s fallout from their breakup is also lessened, with Leo realizing the error of his ways and makes up with Stargirl at the winter dance. But this doesn’t stop her from leaving. In the original book, Leo realizes his error too late and they never do make it up, but the book ends on an ambiguous, but hopeful note.
    • Hillari Kimble was just Mica High’s Alpha Bitch in the book. The movie gave her an understandable reason to dislike Stargirl and, at the very least, acknowledges Stargirl’s apology.
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent: We never learn what became Stargirl's father. He's just not around, for one reason or another.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Stargirl departs with her mom and Leo isn't shown seeing her again. She's touched him and the rest of the school though with her presence, continuing to send him kind gifts over the years.
  • Coming of Age Story: Leo is a teenage boy who falls for the quirky new girl at his school.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The book takes place over the course of a school year from the beginning to the prom, the film condenses it to the start of the year to winter. As a result, it's only one incident that causes Stargirl’s classmates to begin shunning her, while in the book it was multiple games of her cheering for the other team on top of her cloudcuckoolander antics beginning to feel like an act. The Hot Seat interview is tame compared to the Jerry Springer episode it became in the book and Stargirl never really explains why she chooses a new name or that she's outgrown a few others before Stargirl. Even Stargirl's time as Susan Caraway is greatly condensed, lasting weeks in the books, but only a day or two at most in the movie. The last chapter also goes into greater detail about how Mica High has changed in the fifteen years since Stargirl left and little glimpses into Leo's life since. The movie doesn't mention much about the changes beyond the school winning more events and Leo's post-high school life only mentions college.
  • Death by Adaptation: Leo's dad and possibly Stargirl's too. It's never mentioned whether or not he's dead or just left her and her mom. Stargirl had both parents in the books.
  • Disappeared Dad: Leo's father died when he was young, and Stargirl's just isn't mentioned at all, though he's not involved since she has a single mother.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Stargirl no longer uses her birth name Susan, preferring "Stargirl" as she chose it for herself. However, she starts going by it again briefly at Leo's suggestion but stops pretty quickly as it's just not her.
  • It's Personal: In the book, Hillari Kimble had no reason to hate Stargirl beyond being the Alpha Bitch of the school. The movie makes her the older sister of Danny, a boy mentioned in the book who was mentioned to have gotten into a bike accident. Her dislike of Stargirl comes from her being Innocently Insensitive and fixing up and giving back her brother's bike when he can't use it again.
  • Lighter and Softer: As noted on Adaptational Nice Guy and Compressed Adaptation, the period of social ostracization that Stargirl goes through and her breakup with Leo come off as much less miserable in the film compared to the book.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Pretty, quirky and energetic Stargirl helps more withdrawn Leo come out of his shell plus get over his dad's death.
  • Mythology Gag: The school football team is called the Mudfrogs. In the book, Leo uses mud frogs in the ponds of the Sonoran Desert as a metaphor: they sleep dormant for months in the dry ponds until it rains, and they begin to awaken and call to each other. He compares such an event to the student body becoming aware of and discovering each others' individualities as well as their own, thanks to Stargirl.
  • Nice Girl: Stargirl is highly compassionate toward others, getting them gifts and trying to better things even when she doesn't know them. It gets her into trouble a couple of times, due to things she didn't know or showing sympathy other people do not share.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: When a player on a rival team playing her school was hurt, Stargirl rushes over to see if he's okay. Then she goes off with him in the ambulance. Everyone from her school views this as a betrayal since she's their good luck charm, keeping morale up. Without her, they lost. Later it turns out that her giving a bike to Hillari's little brother was innocently insensitive as they'd given this away after he was hurt while riding.
  • Quirky Ukulele: Stargirl is a cloudcuckoolander who carries around a ukulele.
  • Related in the Adaptation: In the book, Hillari Kimble and Danny Pike were two unrelated characters, the former being the Alpha Bitch of Mica High and the latter a little boy who received a brand-new bike from Stargirl after an accident. The movie makes Danny into Hillari's little brother.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Archie's heavily implied to have passed away between showing Stargirl's office to Leo and the book's epilogue. Not only is there no such implication in the movie, but he also comes across as a couple of decades younger than his book counterpart.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Leo gets his dad's porcupine tie to wear for his funeral, and then wears it for years. When some bullies beat him up and destroy it, he gets a new one anonymously. Years later he learns this was from Stargirl, and she also sends him more over the years.
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People: Stargirl the Blithe Spirit has a pet rat named Cinnamon who she often carries around.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Leo is a fairly quiet, reserved boy who goes with the flow. Stargirl is highly eccentric, outgoing, and independent. They fall for each other and have a sweet relationship.