Hi everyone, Bryan Here…
Yet another ‘American Girl‘ film has been released under the name ‘Grace Stirs Up Success‘. If you’re unfamiliar with the ‘American Girl‘ franchise, you can read my previous hardcore action review of ‘Saige Paints the Sky‘. ‘American Girl‘ is basically a line of actual play dolls for girls ages 4-12. None of the films in this series have anything to do with a doll, but rather try and tell these young girls what life is really like on the outside once out of a federal prison, which brings us to ‘Grace Stirs Up Success‘.
Grace is a young girl who loves to bake cupcakes and french macaroons. When not laughing at literally everything on the planet, she works in her grandparents old bakery, which is failing as a business. Grace wants a bicycle for the summer, but her mom (Virginia Madsen, the only recognizable name) tells her she has to earn the money herself. Well, this makes Grace furious and begins to poison all of the customers at her grandparents bake shop, killing every single innocent person. Grace then flees to Paris to hide out with her aunt and uncle, only to have the three of them go on a killing spree with machetes with people who own bikes or gives them the stink eye. Think ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure‘ meets ‘Ichi the Killer‘.
After a bloody shoot out, which leaves Grace with only one limb left, she is extradited back to the US, given robot limbs, and sent to prison, where she is rehabbed and forced to cook cupcakes again for orphaned children. The blood and guts are unrelenting here and makes every Quentin Tarantino movie look rated ‘G’. And be sure to stay until after the credits roll, because once Grace realizes the true value of taking a human life, Samuel L. Jackson shows up and asks her to join some sort of team. I really do wish the above story plot actually happened in ‘Grace Stirs up Success‘, but unfortunately it doesn’t.
Instead, we are forced to watch a young girl and her annoying friends literally laugh and scream at everything they hear and say with fake smiles on their faces. It’s true, Grace likes to bake and does go to Paris, France, where she learns a little bit more about French pastries, however the film never becomes realistic. Instead, it’s a fairy tale type of situation, where nothing bad ever happens, and these young girls who are watching these movies would believe that everything will come true and be as easy as following a recipe in real life.
Even when friends and family get mad, or when a business is failing due to a financial situation, all you have to do is put on a smile, spread red frosting on a cupcake while listening to the worst song ever created on your iPod, and everything will live happily forever after. That’s no joke here with this movie. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that 20 minutes of this movie is devoted to a reality show segment, where young kids compete to be a master chef. It’s filmed like a reality show, complete with music and title cards. I might have blacked out a few times during the film, due to the incessant and annoying laughing and screams from the actors in the film. I don’t know if it was a seizure or me punching myself to stop the agonizing horror on screen, but I did finally make it through the entire movie, only to find out that Samuel L. Jackson does NOT show up. I cried. Then I punched myself again for crying, which made me cry again. It was a vicious cycle.
The acting here isn’t even acting. It’s more like screaming and smiling as hard as you can while trying to recite a line of dialogue. I’ve seen documentaries about giraffes where the dialogue between the animals are better. Poor Virginia Madsen. You were nominated for an Oscar, and this is what you’re doing now. I hope the favor you owed is finished, so I can look forward to seeing you in a remake of ‘Candyman‘.
‘An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success‘ comes with an okay 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Overall, the image largely looks good, however, this overly digital picture has some issues. Detail is mostly sharp and vivid, showcasing almost every imperfection in the baked goods and makeup blemishes on the actors nicely. Though with this strong digital presence, the image goes flat in the wider shots, not giving the image hardly any depth. I hate to say it and sound like Huey Lewis here, but the colors are just too darn loud and bright here. It’s as if they turned up the color saturation to eleven, as to make younger viewers more interested in what’s happening on screen. Nothing looks real. Skin tones are somewhat natural, but look hindered, and the black levels are mostly deep an inky, if not on the light side of things. There is video noise throughout, as well as some minor banding and aliasing. It does the job if you’re showing the movie to someone under five, but other than that, it could’ve been better.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 MA track. Despite the film itself and the video presentation above, this audio track is fairly good. Sound effects, whether it be cooking and kitchen related or city sounds, all sound very good. They are loud and lively throughout with good enough play on the rear speakers. The songs featured in the film might be down right deplorable and make you question these musicians lot in life, but they sound very good over the speakers, delivering a very full and well-balanced sound. The bass has a nice rumble as well. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, even with the ridiculous French accents. There were no instances of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills either, which is surprising, due to all of the screams and high pitch laughter. This is a solid audio mix from Universal.
Girls About Town (HD, 4 Mins.) – The four main young girls in the film travel to Budapest and supposedly have a good time. There are also some pop up facts about Budapest. Just horrible.
Meet BonBon (HD, 2 Mins.) – The dog and its trainer have a bonus feature that doesn’t amount to much other than making me not want to ever watch it again.
Master Chef Junior (HD, 2 Mins.) – A small look at how the young actors learned to sort of make food on the set.
Doggie Day Spa (HD, 2 Mins.) – People washing big dogs. That’s it.
Playing Dress Up (HD, 2 Mins.) – The young girls in the film try on different outfits. Just the worst.
Trailers (HD, 6 Mins.) – Trailers for the other ‘American Girl’ movies, as if we would ever consider watching these.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
‘Grace Stirs Up Success‘ lacks everything that would make a movie good, let alone watchable. Even girls above five years old wouldn’t find this amusing or fun. I don’t see the reason why these films keep coming out, other than to give the good folks over at Rifftrax something to do. The video presentation is okay at best, the audio presentation is quite solid, and the few extras on the disc made me re-think why we exist at all. Skip this movie at all costs unless you have a serious beef with a friend or family member.
– Bryan Kluger