In rural 1977 Georgia, a misfit girl dreams of life in outer space. When a competition offers her a chance to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record, she recruits a makeshift troop of Birdie Scouts, forging friendships that last a lifetime.
Christmas Flint is a weird girl in her small town of Georgia who believes in aliens and is fascinated with outer space, visualizing her dead mother as being somewhere among the stars above her. When she hears the grand prize for a Birdie Scout talent competition is the chance to have their voice transmitted into space, she decides to start her own troop by gathering other outcasts in her neighborhood. While the other troop leader is dismissive, they manage to gain all their badges and enter the contest where they do a rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” The crowd laughs at them and Christmas pees her pants; the others stand behind her by peeing their pants, as well. In the end, they lose but the representative from NASA joins them from a meteor shower to record their voices to be transmitted into space, as well. Ever optimistic, Christmas wishes that the aliens are happy and have the kind of friends she’s garnered from the experience.
In rural 1977’s Wiggly, Georgia, a group of elementary-school misfits band together to form their own troop of Birdie Scouts.
Led by spunky outcast Christmas Flint (Mckenna Grace), they infiltrate the high-and-mighty Birdie Scout youth group in order to win a talent show. The winning Birdies will earn the right to have their voices included on the Voyager Golden Record, which Christmas believes will be heard by life in outer space. A connection her deceased mother nurtured. The only number left unassigned when forming their troop is zero; the girls, and one boy, believe it a good sign as its the number for infinity, rather than a disparity meant by head Birdie Troop mother (Allison Janney). Troop Zero requires a troop mother, one they find in Christmas’s fathers secretary (Viola Davis) who also has history with the head troop mother.
In order to qualify to compete in the talent show, Troop Zero must first obtain one troop badge each. As they go about earning them, they learn more about themselves and each other. The troop enters the contest where they perform an interpretative dance of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. The crowd laughs at them, but they carry on with their performance, and in the end they lose when the judges vote for the high-and-mighty Birdie troop as winners. Later that night the representative from NASA joins them during a meteor shower to record their voices to be transmitted into space, as well. Hopeful and confident, Christmas wishes that the aliens are happy and have the same kind of friends she’s gained from the experience.
Wiggly, Georgia, 1977. Christmas Flint (Mckenna Grace) is on her deck, looking at the stars, signaling to aliens. She tells us how her mom died and she’s alone with her dad. The next day, she goes to the library and checks out books about outer space. She has a friendly disposition but is an outcast in her community. She returns to the trailer she lives in with her dad, Ramsey (Jim Gaffigan), a lawyer; Christmas uses space analogies to describe (to the audience) who everyone is. Miss Rayleen (Viola Davis) works in the trailer, working as her dad’s assistant after having given up her dream of being a lawyer. One of his clients comes by; she doesn’t have money to pay him but gives him avocados instead. That night, Christmas goes back up on the deck again and looks at the stars; she thinks her mother is in space and it’s revealed who she is signaling to is her dead mom. Miss Rayleen watches court shows on TV, still harboring a passion for law.
Christmas goes to visit her friend, Joseph, an effeminate boy forced to partake in sports by his father. Cut to him singing “Say a Little Prayer for You” with Christmas and being picked on by other kids. Hell-No Price, a female bully, begins stealing lunches with her cohort, Smash, who likes picking things up and throwing them to the ground. Joseph and Christmas use a ladder to get up a tree so they can escape the bullies. Time passes and the Birdie Scouts are having a meeting below, led by Principal Massey (Allison Janney). She tells the girls they will win the trophy this year at the national Jamboree talent show and a representative from NASA tells them the winning troop will get to record themselves and have their voices transmitted into space where aliens may hear them. The meeting disbands and Christmas falls out of the tree in hopes of joining the troop and getting to participate in the grand prize. Piper, another female bully, picks on Christmas for allegedly being a “bed wetter” and refuses to let her join, even though she promises to use her knowledge of science to help them. They shove her inside a locker; Principal Massey finds her with one of her pigtails cut off and implies it’s Christmas’s fault she is being bullied for being so weird. Joseph and her go to a dock and he cuts her hair so it looks even. Christmas continues to signal to aliens and insists they are real even if there’s no proof. She shouts that she will be on the record that will be transmitted to space.
Christmas decides Joseph and her will join the Birdie Scouts; there is no rule against boys joining. They go around finding more members — the outcast girls in town.
One is Anne-Claire who prays to Jesus to know if she should join. She asks Hell-No Price and Smash to join. Hell-No only agrees when she realizes she will punish the existing Birdie Scouts by beating them at the talent show. At home, Christmas asks Miss Rayleen to be their troop mother but she is concerned Christmas will get her heart broken. She isn’t worried so Rayleen ends up turning in the application to form her own troop, much to the surprise of Principal Massey — she has no choice but to give them the number “zero” for their troop since it’s the only one left in the state of Georgia. They have their first meeting with Principal Massey giving them leftover clothes and the handful of remaining badges that the girls must earn in order to become a troop. Hell-No tries to bully a kid into buying cookies but his mom puts a stop to that.
Joseph and Christmas get rejected.
One neighbor is friendly and buys a box from Anne-Claire, who is so nervous she throws up; nonetheless, she earns her the badge.
Principal Massey’s troop continues their meetings, learning how to care for babies and do trust falls. Troop Zero isn’t as good. Christmas finds the Beauty Badge and Joseph earns it by styling hair for local women. Troop Zero does an obstacle course, earning Hell-No Price her badge. Smash gets her badge by taking something apart and putting it back together. Christmas is the only one left to earn a badge; she is told she can get a baking badge by baking a cake, which she tries to do at the school. While Rayleen steps out, the other troop enters and torments the outcasts; they begin a food fight with all the ingredients Christmas was going to use to bake her cake. Principal Massey enters and puts an end to this, suspending Troop Zero so Christmas can’t use the cafeteria to bake the cake. The group goes out to eat fried chicken and Rayleen tells them they won’t win even if they did get to the Jamboree competition. Everyone leaves when the other troop knocks on the window and torments them, leaving Christmas alone to ask Rayleen to guide them. So Rayleen decides Christmas will earn the last badge — Surviving in the Wilderness. The group goes out deep into the woods. Rayleen leaves them and they have to spend the night alone, scared.
They eventually find fun looking at the stars and dancing while Rayleen secretly watches from afar. The next morning, Christmas wakes up to see foxes.
Christmas assumes they’re Peacemakers sent from the Giant Caterpillar. Rayleen returns and gives Christmas her badge so now everyone has one.
Troop Zero tells Principal Massey how they all have the badges and will go to Jamboree. But Principal Massey says she looked at the scout code and they don’t have a proper troop number because Rayleen has a previous arrest for slashing a man’s tires and spray-painting the mounted deer heads in his trailer.
Rayleen points out she wasn’t convicted and that the man in question cheated on her constantly and broke down her self-esteem so she never went to law school. She throws the guidebook out the window and says she’s going back to law school. Christmas cries that Rayleen is leaving her. Everyone is upset they can’t find another troop mother and Hell-No says Christmas got her hopes up, making her think she could achieve something, and Christmas runs after her. They fall in the woods and begin laughing.
It’s decided that Ramsey can be the troop mother.
He walks with the troop and the town residents to Principal Massey’s house and says the rule book doesn’t say the troop mother has to be female and he will be Troop Zero’s troop leader.
The principal says she’s helping them because they won’t achieve anything but he is insistent. She tells him it’s a 500-dollar entry fee and he can’t afford that. Everyone in the town gives him what they owe him which equals the 500 dollars he needs.
Christmas looks up at the sky for signs from aliens.
She joins Ramsey and Rayleen and her dad tells her she may lose but it doesn’t mean in the future, she won’t win.
Christmas goes outside and practices her routine with Joseph. The day of the competition finally comes. The group boards an old bus and travels across Georgia. When they finally arrive, Rayleen encourages them that they will win. Everyone exits except Christmas who tells Rayleen if she gets on the record (for NASA), Rayleen would stay; Rayleen tells her that getting on the record isn’t important.
Troop Zero checks in and gives them the 500-dollar entry fee. The troops are welcomed to Jamboree inside a tent. The performers perform on a makeshift wooden stage at the end. We see some of the performers who are either hillbillies or religious fanatics, etc. Then the other troop from Wiggly, who are reigning champions, perform a tap number. Troop Zero is now about to perform — one of the bullies from the other troop ridicules them but Anne-Claire tells her she doesn’t have talent and she’s a snake.
They each perform a rendition of “Space Oddity” with Joseph dressed up as David Bowie and the rest dressed as aliens, planets, and stars. Christmas enters a handmade rocket with a bucket on her head to simulate an astronaut helmet. The audience laughs at them and the music stops. Christmas is so upset, she wets her pants. She begins to cry. Christmas tells the audience sometimes she pees herself when she gets nervous and that she hopes everyone lives a good life and have friends like she has. She then continues singing “Space Oddity” a cappella. The other troop members join hands and pee their pants in unison. They then dance crazy around the stage.
The woman in charge of the competition tells them they’ve seen examples of how to be and how not to be. The doctor from NASA hands out the prize to the bullying troop from Wiggly who had won the year before. Christmas shakes Principal Massey’s hand and congratulates her. She ensures Principal Massey she will be okay and hopes the same for her. Onstage, the girls record their voices for the Golden Record that will be transported into space. Principal Massey is friendly towards Rayleen and tells her she hopes she does well in law school and doesn’t take shit from anyone. Outside the tent, Ramsey tells Christmas he’s proud of her. She says she misses Mama. He tells her it’s just got to be her and him; that he wishes it could be better. She says the two of them is good enough.
Another night, Troop Zero, Rayleen, and Ramsey dance under the stars and watch a meteor shower. Rayleen encourages them to speak as the stars shoot past them since sound waves travel. They each tell their time saying “I’m here” up to the sky. The doctor from NASA records them as they all wish nice things for whoever is listening in space above. Christmas says she hopes they have her mama and she hopes they keep her safe.
She cries and more meteors fall above them. They all shout “I’m here!” In voiceover, Christmas tells the aliens (audience) she hopes they have friends like her, naming everyone from Troop Zero, her father, and Rayleen. “Starman” by David Bowie plays over the credits.