Angels in Stardust

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Angels in Stardust Movie Poster Image
Dismal coming-of-age tale features sex, alcohol, violence.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 101 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Encourages using insight and resourcefulness to extricate oneself from a destructive environment. Suggests that one or two decent people in a community of ignorance, poverty, and violence can make a difference in the lives of its children.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The teen heroine is a compassionate, responsible girl who has a strong moral center and acts as a loving parent to her little brother. With only one exception, adults and parents are portrayed as selfish, ignorant, abusive, and unreliable. The featured mother is sexually promiscuous and self-centered, a negligent, hard-drinking woman who is caught up in the poverty and desperation of her life. She gets worse over the course of the film and is never redeemed. A Native American, though a target of racial intolerance, has strong values and is helpful and heroic. In the town, set near the Texas-Oklahoma border, the only characters of color are Native Americans.


An overall menacing atmosphere finds the heroine and her little brother either threatened or in danger throughout the film. Shadowy scenes imply that young women are being abducted and sexually assaulted. The heroine is saved at the last moment from two men who've grabbed her and are beginning to rape her. Other suspenseful sequences: A little boy goes missing but is later found unharmed; a promiscuous teen disappears; a beloved cat is purposefully run over (off-screen). A teen and her mother scream at one another and then get into a physical fight. A girl is thrown from a motor home into the mud. Another young woman is shown to have injuries from an abusive husband, whom she excuses. 


Sexual promiscuity is a running plot element and topic of discussion. Though no actual sexual activity is seen on-screen, characters continually appear in skimpy, revealing clothing, leer at one another, kiss, embrace, and appear to be in a perpetual state of foreplay. The main parental figure moves from one sexual adventure to another, actively encouraging her daughter to "find a boy"; the mom's behavior is always sexually provocative. The heroine is the victim of an attempted rape and the object of much unwanted sexual attention. Several scenes suggest that pornography is being filmed in a trailer park. 


Frequent swearing, sexual threats, and some ethnic slurs ("hell," "damn," "kick your butt," "s--t," "p---y," "slut," "son of a bitch," "screw," "pissed off," "moron," "retard," "Injun"). Sexual innuendo and sexually charged conversation is pervasive.


Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola, and more Coca-Cola.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters (including teens) drink, get drunk, and smoke cigarettes throughout. Drinking often is seen in combination with sexual threatening.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Angels in Stardust, a weak attempt at a meaningful coming-of-age story, is filled with scenes showing both teens and adults in a highly sexual atmosphere, drinking and getting drunk, and threatening a likable heroine and her very vulnerable little brother. Characters behave despicably toward one another, specifically an irresponsible mother, sex-driven young men, and most of the teen girls. A Native American, one of the only decent adults, is the object of racial scorn. A community of very poor people is depicted as a hub of alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, and abuse. Language includes swearing, insults, ethnic slurs, and endless sexual innuendo and threats. 

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What's the story?

Vallie Jo (AJ Michalka), a teen in a desolate trailer park somewhere between Texas and Oklahoma, is at one of life's most perilous crossroads in ANGELS IN STARDUST. The obstacles in Vallie Jo's path seem relentless. They're the adults who've already given up on life, the teens who accept a bleak future, and the predators who take advantage of everyone. Increasingly neglected by her irresponsible mother (Alicia Silverstone), Vallie Jo finds solace in the company of an unnamed cowboy, who mysteriously appears and disappears as she needs him. As events force Vallie to choose her life's path, her strong will and intelligence lead her to understand that she, herself, is her most reliable resource. Supported by her loving little brother, a caring teacher, and a concerned neighbor, Vallie begins her journey. Will she summon her courage, natural talents, and a loving nature to find a way out of the poverty and dead-end life that is all around her?

Is it any good?

Except for a winning performance by AJ Michalka as Vallie Jo, this is a mess of a movie. Characters are one-dimensional, and their behavior is mostly despicable. The portrayal of a community of those left behind and poverty-stricken is abhorrent. Everyone is either drunk or consumed by their sexual appetites. Even normally good performers are left helpless by the mean-spirited story, heavy-handed dialogue, and generally inept filmmaking. Not recommended.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss the changing portrayal of Tenkill. How did different characters describe him? What were your initial feelings about him? Were you surprised by his behavior?

  • Who was The Cowboy (Billy Burke)? What purpose did he have in the movie? 

  • What, if anything, do you think this movie reveals about the filmmakers' attitude regarding the people of Tardust and poor people in general?  

Movie details

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