Starring: Grace Vander Waal, Elijah Richardson, Judy Greer, Uman Thurman, Judd Hirsch, Tyrell Jackson Williams, and A Madrigal.
Directed By: Julia Hart
Wher i Watched it: Disney plus
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
Description Provided By: Deluxe
Narrated By: Laura Post
The Plot: In a sequel where youn do not need to see the original, Stargirl (Vander Wall) is tired of constantly moving from place to place, but her mother (Greer) promises this will be the last move as she sets up shop in Hollywood and prepares to be a costume designer for a film. Meanwhile, Stargirl starts hanging out with a neighbor boy, Evan (Richardson), who is making a movie with his brother, and the two set out to make this movie a reality, and along the way Stargirl meets a huge musical inspiration for her, an artist that her mother loved (Thurman) who has since retired and now just drinks a lot of Shirley Temples. Between a singer that no longer sings, and an elderly neighbor (Hirsch) who likes it quieter, Stargirl has her work cut out for her.
What Works: This film is completely different than the first one. You don’t need to see the first to enjoy the second. No other characters other than Stargirl (and her pet rat) cross over. Stargirl didn’t have a mom in the first film, so even Greer is new to the franchise. And they really stepped up their casting game by roping in Greer, Thurman, and Hirsch, three seasoned veterans who all offered so much to this film. Sure, it’s a little schmaltzy at times, but it’s actually a more complex film aimed more at teenagers. if your eight year old stays awake during this, I’d be surprised.
It’s a rather serious outlook on insecurities, thinking outside the box, and seeking an opportunity to always change someone’s opinion. Stargirl really does enter the film like she’s from some special place, but it’s a place where even though she clearly has a lot on her plate, her existence seems to be to impact others. And unlike the first film where she was somewhat mocked for being an outsider, and blamed for things outside of her control, not to mention paired up with a problematic male lead, here none of those problems exist. Here, this Hollywood gang of misfits accepts her for who she is, and she goes out of her way always to help others, and brighten someone else’s day.
In. A scene toward the end, when she’s feeling down and hopeless, she still manages to donate to an artist busking on the street even though all she likely hasn’t to her name is that very pocket change she just parted ways with. The first film was resistant to this model for Stargirl, not really knowing what to do with her, but the sequel keeps her out of high school, and surrounds her with people who not only love her unconditionally for who she is, but accept her at face value, allowing Stargirl to make her biggest impacts.
The kids at her last school don’t know what they lost.
What Doesn’t Work: It’s still just a little sugary sweet, as well as the fact that despite Disney’s best efforts to try and convince me that Uma Thurman is drinking the non-alcoholic Shirley Temple’s, her performance suggests otherwise. Having recently made it through Suspicion featuring Thurman, I know she’s not a walking catastrophe, but here she attacks her role with all the slurred speech of a late Marlon Brando performance. She’s either doing some fantastic acting believing her character was supposed to be drunk all the time, or she was actually tipsy on set.
Also, either because of the way I felt either the film lacked the necessary description, or the audio description failing, I was so confused about the living structure where Stargirl was, that had the old man beneath her, but then Evan and his family were also there somewhere? I couldn’t draw you a picture of this if I tried.
The Blind Perspective: I love that Laura Post got to do both films for continuity purposes, but as I just stated, I had no idea what this housing situation was. That’s either a failure of the script, or the narration. It’s not a huge deal, but I kept wondering why I wasn’t seeing any other neighbors.
Final Thoughts: A massive improvement over the useless original, that actually puts the titular character as the protagonist in her own story, instead of making her supporting to a milktoast teenage boy narrating his own dull high school experience that Stargirl just happens to drift through. Here, she takes control of her own film, something that should be appreciated more. And instead of being inundated with Grace dining a ton of covers, the film pushes harder on the desire for Stargirl to evolve into writing original material. It’s not a perfect franchise by any means, nor was this the best film I’ve seen this year or anything. It might seem like I’m gushing, but I’m doing so largely because a few days ago I sat through the first film and hated it, and almost didn’t watch the second film (which still has a dumb name), but I’m glad I did. I never needed to watch the first one. This works entirely on its own. The two films are night and day, and have very little to do with each other.
Final Grade: B-