American Girl online short films

A couple of live-action short films based on American Girl dolls. Not sure if there will be more of these, but I rather hope so. Anyway, I wasn't quite sure if I should put this under "web reviews" or "short films," since they are short films, but they did originate online. But I guess I'll go with "short films."
Note: there was later a series of American Girl specials on Amazon.

tek's rating: ¾

Maryellen and the Brightest Star (16:11); IMDb; TV Tropes; Wikia; YouTube

This was released on November 5, 2015, but I didn't see it until June 2016. It was written and directed by Maya Rudolph (but not that Maya Rudolph). The story is about Maryellen Larkin, the first new American Girl character to be introduced after the "Historical Characters" line was rebranded as "BeForever."

It's set in October 1954. While Maryellen's older sister Carolyn is planning a "Wizard of Oz"-themed group Halloween costume (she wants Maryellen to be the Tin Man), Maryellen herself is stargazing. She spots a bright red star in the night sky, and wants to find out what it is. Later, at school, her teacher announces an essay contest about space, the winner of which will get to interview a rocket scientist who will be visiting the school. And the interview will be broadcast on the news. Maryellen wants to be the first woman in space. (Of course, there's a misogynistic boy named Wayne, who thinks "girls and space don't mix.") In her excitement, Maryellen creates a comic book about "Astro Girl," but it's disqualified from the contest, because it's not technically an essay. However, that's not enough to make her give up on her dreams. I don't want to reveal how the story ends, but it's pretty decent. I probably would rate the film higher if we got to know any of the characters besides Maryellen better than we do, and if any of the acting of the other characters was as charming as hers. (In particular, I'd probably like to know more about her best friend, Davy, although I found his acting the worst of anyone in the film. But at least he provided a nice counterbalance to Wayne's sexism.)

Note: Maryellen would later be featured in the Amazon special Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas, though all the characters in the special, including Maryellen, are played by different actors than they are in this film.

tek's rating:

And the Tiara Goes To... (14:00); IMDb; Wikia; YouTube

This was released on November 12, 2015, but I didn't see it until June 2016. I guess this is set in 1974. There's a girl named Julie Albright, who is good at basketball. Her mother finds a rumpled paper in her backpack about a beauty pageant her elementary school is having. Julie isn't interested, but her sister convinces her to enter by showing her an article about Miss America using scholarship money from her pageant to go to law school. So... at first Julie plans on dribbling a basketball for the talent portion of the pageant. Her friend Ivy tries to convince her to change her talent to singing, but in the end, Julie goes with her original choice. But probably the best part of the pageant is the interview segment, in which the host asks each girl what they want to be when they grow up. I definitely think Julie had the best answer. But I don't want to say any more about the plot, or how the pageant turns out. (I do feel the need to say I have mixed feelings about beauty pageants in general, and I feel that the idea of such pageants for elementary school kids could be particularly problematic. But... it was the 70s.) Anyway... the film was okay. I mean, it had some good elements. The whole idea of being true to yourself, and that a person doesn't have to be just one thing or another, and I guess feminism can come in various forms. And... I dunno what else to say.

Note: Julie and Ivy would later both appear in the Amazon special Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance. They're played by different actresses than in this film, and Ivy is the main character instead of Julie.

anthology shorts index
American Girl films:
Samantha * Felicity * Molly * Kit * Chrissa * McKenna * Saige * Isabelle * Grace * Lea
online short films * Amazon specials

Note 1: Over the years, I have had some confusion concerning how to categorize some of these movies, and therefore whether to place my reviews in my site's TV section or movie section. The first three were definitely TV movies, as they aired on TV before being released on home video. The fourth was originally released theatrically, so that was also easy to categorize. But after that, it started to get complicated. I'm pretty sure the fifth movie aired on TV a day before it was released on DVD, but some sources claim it aired the same day the DVD was released. Either way, it was either after that movie or the sixth (I don't remember for sure which) that I decided, from that point on, any American Girl movie that aired on TV within a month after its DVD release, I would categorize as TV movies (despite my usual preference for basing movie categorization on which medium had the earliest release). The sixth through eighth movies all aired on TV less than a month after their DVD releases. The ninth and tenth, as far as I know, have had no TV release at all, at least in America (and if they did, it was definitely more than a month after their DVD releases). However, both those movies were released for digital download less than a month prior to their DVD releases, but... I consider them direct-to-video movies, as I have no category for digitally released movies.

Note 2: In August 2014, the "Historical Characters" line was rebranded as "BeForever." This included some of the American Girl Dolls, but not all of them. And since the rebranding, new dolls have been introduced in this line. Of the Historical Character dolls who already had movies, I believe only Samantha and Kit have been included in the rebranding; I presume Felicity and Molly were retired, though I really don't know much about any of this. (I've done minimal research online.)