Since 1986, American Girl has introduced to their fans not only limitless imitative play but also storytelling with their popular eighteen-inch dolls. Despite changes that anyone endures over time, American Girl still remains highly relevant in today’s world for both fans who engage in play and doll collectors who love to add the detailed dolls to their collection.
During this twenty-nine year period the company has grown and expanded, one thing that hasn’t changed is their strong and popular focus on real girls throughout the past and present. From iconic American Girl figures such as Samantha, Kit and Molly, fans find themselves enchanted by the historically inspired character’s personas, lives and time periods. This is what makes the unique dolls stand out from the rest. The American Girl doll line doesn’t just focus on the dolls whose lives are woven with the past, they also focus on today’s world and crafting modern day girls to which fans can look up.
Each year dating back to 2001, American Girl has introduced a new ‘Girl of the Year’, a young girl who is representative of their time. Each girl different from the last in countless ways; baring her own personality, strengths, weakness, and obstacles she must overcome as she learns something valuable about life, or in some cases realizes.
In an exciting announcement, 2015’s Girl of the Year is Grace, is the main protagonist of the latest American Girl movie, Grace Stirs Up Success. As one can assume, the movie centers on the hard-working, and organized ten-year-old Grace; a girl with a talent, and passion for baking and one day working alongside her grandparents in their bakery.
Before I start analyzing and talking about the film, please be advised for possible spoilers. I will try to keep them to a minimum, but more likely than not they will surface.
At the start of the film we are quickly introduced to Grace, as well as her talent for baking and love of her grandparent’s small and quaint family bakery. After whipping up some sweet treats for her parents, with aspirations of being granted a raise in her allowance to obtain a new bike for a race taking place at summer’s end; Grace finds herself having her request denied by her mother and father that suggest she find a way to earn the money herself.
Quickly a spark of idea strikes Grace who rushes out to meet with her friends; Maddy and Ella. She attempts to rally support for creating a business between the trio to get new bikes and after a few different ideas are exchanged between the friends Grace announces her big idea, complete with logo- to open her own cupcake business. After some hesitance from Maddy and Ella, the trio begins work on their new endeavor. With lots of hard work followed by setting up shop during a game, the girls are in business and things are looking great for their new bikes and a bright summer ahead full of cupcakes…
That is until Grace’s mother drops news of an unexpected trip to Paris on her. The cause; her Aunt Sophie being placed on bed-rest and needs aid both at home and in their patisserie (French bakery). Despite being upset about having to leave her growing business and friends for the summer. Grace is excited at the prospect of working and learning at the patisserie.
The core of the movie focus on Grace’s time in Paris and the ups and downs she faces both with her cousin, Sylvie, and at the patisserie. But things take another turn shortly after her return home as she discovers that her family’s bakery is in danger of closing- forever. Determined, Grace sets out to do all she can to save what she loves most and learns how critical working together is and how to bring everyone’s specific talents to the table to better the project at hand.
Like all of the ever-growing cast of American Girls, Grace brings an important message and theme of family and trying with everything you have. That alone makes her admirable, however I must admit that the movie was not one of the strongest I have seen from American Girl. The pacing was off at times, there where instances when some of the content could have been cut and not noticed and the humor could have been sharper.
It was not bad by any means, but at the same time it did not shine as brightly as other girls who came before. It is worth nothing that we did see some chances taken in Stirs Up Success that we have not seen done before. The addition of traveling abroad perhaps the biggest.
Overall, Grace Stirs Up Success is worth at least one viewing for any fans of the American Girl brand. Despite not being as memorial as other Girls of the Year, it does have moments and offers up a good message about dreams and working towards them as well as the importance of team-work.
Grace Stirs Up Success is now out on digital download, DVD and Blu-ray.
Join the conversation; how do you rank Grace Stirs Up Success? What about American Girl in general, yay or nay?