The American teen romantic drama film Hollywood Stargirl was released on Disney+ last June 3, 2022, starring Grace VanderWaal as the titular character Stargirl. The film is a sequel to the 2020 film Stargirl, which was based on Jerry Spinelli’s novel of the same name. Hollywood Stargirl however is not an adaptation of the novel’s sequel Love, Stargirl but instead is an original storyline. The film is directed by Julia Hart with a screenplay that she co-wrote with Jordan Horowitz. The film’s main cast also includes Elijah Richardson, Judy Greer, Uma Thurman, Judd Hirsch, and Tyrel Jackson Williams. The story follows Stargirl as she braces a new adventure in Los Angeles. After her mom Ana gets hired as a costume designer for a movie, Stargirl meets new people and explores her dreams and passion. The film has received positive reviews from critics with particular praise for the storyline and performances of the main cast. Chicago Sun-Times described the film as “smart, family-friendly entertainment with the perfect combination of real-world plausibility and magical escapism and in a review published on Variety, they wrote, “Ultimately, the film’s strength is in its sentiments surrounding the notion of success: what it can look like, how to get it and how to sustain it in a fickle industry. It’s a meaningful love letter to the artistic, creative process, dedicated to dreamers with unwavering ambition.” If you enjoyed watching the feel-good film Hollywood Stargirl and you’re looking for more movies to watch, here are five of our recommendations.
If you haven’t watched Hollywood Stargirl’s prequel, Stargirl, we recommend you watch it and witness the early adventures of Stargirl as a transfer student who brings her free spirit to the high school and helps a teen boy discover a new perspective. The film was directed by Julia Hart, from a screenplay written by Kristin Hahn and Jordan Horowitz Horowitz who also co-produced the film with Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Lee Stollman while Grace VanderWaal and Graham Verchere play the lead roles. . The film received relatively positive reviews from critics, with particular praise to Hart’s direction. In a review by The New York Times, they praised the film and wrote, “This kindhearted novel adaptation offers a welcome message of embracing one’s true self.” they further mentioned how the film transcends its YA target audience saying, “The film is noteworthy, beyond that target audience, for the participation of the director Julia Hart, the force behind last year’s breathtaking and brilliant “Fast Color.”
If you fell in love with Stargirl’s character, watching the 2001 French-language romantic comedy film Amélie will be a treat. The film was directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet from a screenplay by Jeunet with Guillaume Laurant. Set in Paris, the film follows waitress Amélie, played by Audrey Tautou who after an encounter decides to create a positive impact on the lives of others in her small ways. Just like Stargirl, Amelie is a very likable character that brings her own sparkle to the people she meets. The film also stars Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Lorella Cravotta, Serge Merlin, Jamel Debbouze, Claire Maurier, Clotilde Mollet, Isabelle Nanty, Dominique Pinon, Artus de Penguern, Yolande Moreau, Urbain Cancelier, and Maurice Bénichou in supporting roles. The film received positive reviews from critics and won several accolades including Best Film at the European Film Awards, Best Film and Best Director at the César Awards, and Best Original Screenplay at the British Academy Film Awards, and five Academy nominations, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay. In a review by The Guardian, they gave particular mention to Tautou saying, “Amelie’s charm will be a moot point for many people. Tautou has got an attractive address to the camera, and her bohemian eccentricity hints at Holly Golightly or even – at two or three removes – Sally Bowles”
Better Nate Than Ever
If you want a similar film that you can watch with younger kids and the whole family, the American musical comedy film Better Nate Than Ever would be one of our best picks. Similar to Hollywood Stargirl, the film involves themes about creativity, chasing one’s dreams, and expressing oneself. The film written and directed by Tim Federle is based on his 2013 novel of the same name. The Disney+ original film follows Nate Foster who aspires to be in a broadway musical. After discovering an audition for Lilo and Stitch the Musical on the day his parents are out of town, Nate and his best friend Libby sneak their way to New York. The film stars Rueby Wood in the titular role while Lisa Kudrow, Aria Brooks, and Joshua Bassett appear in supporting cast roles. The film received positive reviews from critics and in a review by Common Sense Media, they wrote, “What makes this movie special is the single-mindedness with which a 13-year-old main character follows his passion, and the innocence and sweetness the story retains despite portraying realistic life challenges.”
Another feel-good film that features a lovable lead with great supporting characters is the coming-of-age comedy film Dumplin’ directed by Anne Fletcher and written by Kristin Hahn. It is based on the young adult novel of the same name by Julie Murphy. The film stars Danielle Macdonald, Jennifer Aniston, and Odeya Rush. The film follows the story of a plus-size teen who decides to join a beauty pageant in her small Texas town as a form of protest. The said beauty pageant is coordinated by her mom, a former beauty queen, and the whole journey tests their relationship as well. Vulture described the film as a “breath of fresh air” and wrote, “This world feels so lived-in, and its characters so engaging, that you often find yourself wondering what they’ll do once the cameras stop rolling.”
The 2021 American comedy-drama film Moxie (MOXiE!) directed by Amy Poehler will surely be enjoyable to watch as a family, especially with your teens. The screenplay of the film was adapted by Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer from the 2015 novel of the same name by Jennifer Mathieu. Moxie stars Hadley Robinson, Alycia Pascual-Peña, Lauren Tsai, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Nico Hiraga, and Poehler and follows 16-year-old Vivian who begins to build her confidence as she finds a way to empower other women in her school by publishing an anonymous feminist zine. Just like Stargirl who discovers more about herself as she meets new people, Vivian finds inspiration through her mother and is able to boost her confidence with a newfound friend. Indie Wire published a review of the film and wrote, “the film is frequently charming and zippy, even without big laughs. Mostly, it may prove to be enlightening to older generations who don’t remember what it felt like to be young and suddenly clued into the ways of the world. For its target demo of teenage audiences, it will be less revelatory.”