Gravity Falls Shorts: Mabel’s Scrapbook, Fixin’ It With Soos, & Gravity Falls TV

I ended my last Gravity Falls review by pointing out a whole year passed between Season One’s finale and Season Two’s premiere. That gave plans plenty of time to form their own theories on the Falls’ biggest mysteries and lament the prolonged lack of new episodes. They weren’t completely starved for new content, however. During that long hiatus, Alex Hirsch and the Gravity Falls team produced a series of interstitial shorts for the Disney Channel and online. These vlog-style shorts provide equal doses of humor, mystery and charm in only a few short minutes. Also, keeping with Hirsch’s stellar continuity record, select things from the shorts either make appearances or play an integral role in future episodes. This is the reason why I’ll be looking at them in the weeks leading up to the return of full episode reviews. It won’t be your average in-depth review with call back and hilarity categories, just a minor retrospective with my thoughts. Let’s begin, shall we?

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May Review: Singin’ in the Rain

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material.)

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So…Singin’ in the Rain.

Considered by critics, historians and movie buffs alike to be the greatest musical ever made.

 

Go see it.

 

 

NOW.

 

 

 

 

Seriously, what are you still doing here reading my ramblings? You’re better off spending the next hour and forty-two minutes watching the film yourself.

 

 

…well, you came this far, didn’t you?

 

I’d hate to hype up this movie too much since it already has such a lofty reputation, but I can swear a solemn oath that its reputation is one that it has well and truly earned. I count my first viewing as one of those times where I looked at a classic film and said “Yeah, bring it on,” but minutes later was completely hooked.

It all began when Arthur Freed, famed musical producer for MGM, tasked songwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green to create a film using only well-established tunes from previous MGM musicals to show off their catalogue of hit songs.

In other words, the Greatest Movie Musical of All Time is in fact a jukebox musical.

So why is it that this movie gets all the praise (which it deserves, might I add) while films like Mamma Mia…don’t? Well for one thing, they put time and effort into crafting the story and how the songs play into it. They don’t use the elaborate musical numbers as a distraction from a wafer-thin plot or characters like some other movies I could mention.

Second, all the songs featured have become standards for a reason. Each one is an ear worm from start to finish. Though they’ve been featured in other movies, how they’re utilized here all but eclipsed their previous incarnations.

Third, it is funny. And I mean laugh-out-loud, every-line-hits-its-mark, future-screenwriters-please-watch-this-to-learn-how-to-write-good-crack-up-dialogue funny.

Fourth, let’s talk about Gene Kelly.

I have…mixed feelings when it comes to Gene Kelly and his works. Have you ever seen a movie that blew you away so much that any in the same anthology or of a similar caliber simply, for whatever reason, failed to match the same experience you had before? I’ve had that happen to me twice – once when I tried to watch the other Mad Max movies after seeing Fury Road, and again with most of Kelly’s films after Singin’ in the Rain. Kelly was an incredible dancer and choreographer; some might even say he was to dance on film the way Walt Disney was to animation. Talent and praise can go to your head if left unchecked however, and Kelly LOVED to show off his moves, even at the expense of the story. If you ever decide to play a drinking game when watching one of his movies, don’t drink whenever he stops the film just so he can dance. You won’t make to the end credits. Don’t get me wrong, I adore musicals and a good dance break is always welcome if it’s entertaining enough, but Gene indulges himself one too many times even for me. Also, if you know anything about him behind the scenes, the horror stories are sadly true. The man wasn’t a perfectionist, he was a full-blown diva. Both cast and crew lived in fear of his tantrums should one step fall out of place. Singin’ in the Rain is no exception to either of these truths, but one, you couldn’t tell by the great chemistry on screen, and two, with the exception of one or two moments, the dancing is so well integrated in the narrative that to cut any of it would be a detriment to the film. There are moments that left me slackjawed at how fluid and lively the choreography is. I can’t recall any other musical that has left me the same way regarding to that aspect.

Well, enough of my buildup, let’s look at that silver screen classic, Singin’ in the Rain.

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Your May Review Is…

Hey everyone.

Pardon me if I’m not entirely enthusiastic today. Apparently someone thought it was a good idea to tweet my thoughts on the Indians from last month’s review of Peter Pan to Donald Trump, and now he’s been bugging me for the past few weeks to join his cabinet. As such, I’ve been lying low somewhere that neither a millenial or one of his supporters would think to tread.

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“I’m guessing either a library or a mosque.”

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“HA! FINALLY FOUND YOU!”

What the – how?!

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“Wherever Cynicism goes, we’re usually not far behind. That’s the power of the internet for you.”

And let me guess, you’re going to call me out on my opinions too?

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“No! We’re here to stop you from accepting the position! We don’t need any more vile self-serving racists in the government than we do now!”

I DON’T EVEN WANT THE STINKING JOB!!

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“But we’ve already circulated several petitions around the internet that are amassing signatures as we speak.”

Can’t you all just leave me in peace to announce this month’s review?

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“All right, but as long as it’s not something controversial.”

Thank you. And now, your review for the month of May is…

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Gravity Falls Review: “Gideon Rises” (S01E20)

If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

Previously on Gravity Falls:
Gideon has summoned a dangerous mind demon by the name of Bill Cipher to aid him in stealing the Mystery Shack from the Pines family. After traveling into Grunkle Stan’s mind and defeating Bill, Dipper Mabel and Soos wake up to find Gideon has already stolen the deed to the Shack and put his nefarious plans for the Pines and the town into motion.

Dipper wakes up from a terrible nightmare where everything I previously described happened and he, Mabel and Stan were forced to take shelter at Soos’ grandma’s house.

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Spoilers: It’s not a dream.

Unable to sleep, Grunkle Stan turns on the TV, which happens to be in the middle of a news story covering Gideon’s sudden ownership of the Mystery Shack and his plans for it. Gideon invites the whole town to hear his big announcement and promises free admission to anyone who wears his special Lil’ Gideon pins. Dipper is determined to set things right as is Mabel, especially if it means finally putting her grappling hook to good use.

Everyone in Gravity Falls comes to the Mystery Shack to marvel over Gideon and how his psychic abilities showed him some of the citizens’ biggest secrets. Soos, Stan, Dipper and Mabel also show up in disguise to hear the news. Gideon announces he’s turning the Mystery Shack into a theme park, Gideonland, and its mascot will be Waddles forced to wear a Gideon costume and wig. That is the last straw for the Pines. They storm the stage and declare that Gideon is a fraud and a thief. Gideon tells them that Stan gave him the deed, which he keeps on his person at all times and didn’t even bother to remove Stan’s signature from, and since the town follows the “finders keepers” rule that most movies and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad seem to have regarding property rights there’s nothing the Pines can do apparently. Gideon sics security and a Lil’ Gideon pin on Stan and boots them out.

Now the Pines are out of a home and Soos and Wendy are out of a job. Since Soos’ grandma can’t afford to keep the Pines under her roof for more than a few days, Dipper and Mabel have to think of something quick. Stan can only BS to their parents about their situation for so long before he has to send them home. Though it’s short, the scene where he lies over the phone in private while worrying about how he can take care of the kids with barely any money to his name is heartbreaking. It’s not much better for Wendy either as she informs a heartbroken Dipper that her father will be sending her to work at her cousin’s logging camp for the rest of the summer if the Shack doesn’t reopen. The upside is that it will get her away from Robbie until he finally gets over their breakup.

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Which may take a while.

At the Shack, Gideon is torturing poor Waddles in between poring over his Journal. When his father asks why he’s so busy reading instead of celebrating over Gideonland, Gideon tells him –

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April Review: Peter Pan (1953)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material.)

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“All this has happened before. And it will all happen again.”
– Opening lines

No truer words have ever been spoken.

JM Barrie’s Peter Pan is as timeless a fantasy story as you can get. It’s nothing short of pure magic. Who among us hasn’t wished to never grow up and live in a world not run by fun-sucking adults? Who can openly admit that they never dreamed of flying and going on exciting new adventures every day? The tale of Peter Pan appeals to the kid in all of us. It doesn’t surprise me that every couple of years we seem to get some kind of new retelling of it because the lore of the Boy Who Never Grew Up offers so many possibilities. It’s difficult to pin down which version could be considered the most definitive adaptation (though the 2003 film comes the closest to being the most faithful in story and tone) but this is a case where every single one out there has something to offer for each generation. There were stage plays and silent films for those who were children when the book first came out, the 1960’s musical starring Mary Martin (and later Cathy Rigby) was an annual television tradition for decades, Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates is considered one of the most creative animated shows of the late 80’s-early 90’s, Steven Spielburg’s unofficial sequel Hook has gone on to become a cult classic (as well as a kickass video game), and of course we have the film I’ll be looking at today, the Disney animated one from the 50’s.

Walt Disney once played the role of Peter Pan in a school production; as such, the story was very close to him. Peter Pan was planned to be one of the first animated films his studio would release – story ideas were tossed around as early as the mid-30’s – but it fell into development hell thanks to the frenzy of World War 2. Look carefully when watching the 1941 film The Reluctant Dragon and you’ll see early maquette versions of some of the characters in a few places. After the much-needed success of Cinderella in 1950, work resumed on Peter Pan. The results, however, were mixed, with some critics and even Walt himself being disappointed with the final product. Most audiences, on the other hand, gravitated towards it, and today it’s considered a classic of Disney animation as well as one of the most outstanding adaptations of Barrie’s work. Why is that? Let’s find out.

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Gravity Falls Review: “Dreamscaperers” (S01E19)

If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

Previously on Gravity Falls:
Dipper and Mabel Pines are spending the summer in the small town of Gravity Falls, where their Grunkle Stan runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack. On his first day there, Dipper uncovers a journal that chronicles some of the unusual happenings and inhabitants of the town. While unraveling the mysteries of Gravity Falls with Mabel and their friends, Dipper must also keep Gideon, a fake psychic who’s Stan’s business rival, from stealing the Mystery Shack at all costs.

Before we get the review underway, there’s something I haven’t been completely honest about that I need to confess. I do my reviews on my own, by myself, with little to no input from others – or at least I thought I did.

You might recall some weird codes appearing at the bottom of each Gravity Falls review, usually spelling out some stupid stuff.

Well…I didn’t write those.

I don’t know who’s doing them or why, but if I finish writing a review one night and go to bed then by morning they’re in there. I didn’t really question it until one time it didn’t show up. Someone asked why and as I was writing a response I blacked out. When I came to, there it was. And what it translated out to was…unsettling. Add that on top of some weird and frankly disturbing dreams I’ve been having as of late and I’m starting to get a little wary of supernatural-related things.

So let’s get this over with, all right?

It’s a dark and stormy night. Grunkle Stan calls Dipper and Mabel away from their game to laugh at a cheap commercial for Gideon Gleeful’s Tent of Telepathy playing on TV. The commercial ends announcing that a second location will be opening soon – right where the Mystery Shack is now standing. Dipper is concerned but Stan says the only way Gideon could get the Mystery Shack was if he broke in and stole the deed, which, by a staggering coincidence, Gideon is in the middle of doing. They catch him in the act and Stan chases him out with a broom. Something that cracks me up the more I think about it is Gideon crying out “Oh no, not the broom!” because it feels like this exact thing has happened countless times before. Stan locks the deed in a safe declaring the only place he keeps the combination is in his brain, the one place Gideon can never get into. What none of them know is that this recent humiliation has forced Gideon to unleash the most powerful – and dangerous – secret in his Journal to settle the score.

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Back at the Shack Mabel tries to get everyone to watch her favorite radical 80’s movie “Dream Boy High” when Soos informs them a bat has gotten into the kitchen. Without hesitating Grunkle Stan makes Dipper go deal with the problem. Dipper, who’s sick of always being pushed around by Stan whenever there’s a mess to be cleaned, stands up to him, but backs off after Stan wins an epic stare-down competition. Later, as Soos swabs on disinfectant and Dipper prays to God that he doesn’t have rabies, he wonders why Stan always seems to pick on him and no one else. Soos writes it off as another one of the Shack’s mysteries and he and Mabel run off to fool around some more.

In the woods Gideon undergoes a ritual to summon forth the mysterious triangular being, unaware that Mabel and Soos have stumbled across him. Gideon becomes possessed and speaks in tongues, the forest turns black and white and time slows down to nothing. And out of the sky appears –

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Gravity Falls Review: “Land Before Swine” (S01E18)

If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit Gravity Falls from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

Previously on Gravity Falls:
Dipper and Mabel Pines are spending the summer with their Grunkle Stan, who runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack in the small town of Gravity Falls. Dipper finds a journal in which the enigmatic Author has chronicled some of the unusual happenings and inhabitants of the Falls, and he vows to follow in his (or her) footsteps to unravel Gravity Falls’ mysteries while bonding with his wild sister, cranky Grunkle and the Shack’s friendly handyman Soos. Mabel, meanwhile, has won a pet pig named Waddles, and is as close to him as he is adorable (which is very).

Okay, I have to start by saying how much I love the title for this. When was the last time anything close to the mainstream gave a nod to Don Bluth? The irony lies in that it’s from the company that spawned and later defeated him in the animation box office, but still, much appreciated.

 

Late at night Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland are hard at work solving a maze – not a case that’s like a maze, a children’s picture maze – when something rips the roof off their car and flies away with it. The two friends see it as a chance to ride with the top down, immediately forgetting about Gravity Falls’ newest threat.

The next day Mabel and Waddles have the Mystery Shack to themselves. You know what that means….PIG DANCE PARTY!!

Nope. Not even close to the awesomeness that we get.

Much obliged.

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March Review: The Wizard of Oz (1939)

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(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material.)

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“Toto…I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
– Dorothy Gale

In the late 1800’s, Lyman Frank Baum was a family man down on his luck and out of a job. He was a bright and creative fellow but for one reason or another could never stay employed for long. Then one day, his wife convinced him to write a story based on the ones he told his children, where ordinary people are whisked to magical lands, where men made of tin come to life, where the world is ruled by wise and powerful women (Baum’s wife and her family were suffragettes, so that was a big influence). All that was missing was a name. While going through a file cabinet Baum noticed that everything was organized from A – N and O – Z. Had Baum not payed any attention to the latter, we may never have gotten the land so surreal and imaginative as Oz.

Over one hundred years later, The Wizard of Oz is still considered America’s fairy tale. France has the works of Charles Perrault, Germany has the Brothers Grimm, England has J.M. Barrie and J.K. Rowling, and America has L. Frank Baum. The original book has no less than 52 sequels (13 of which were originally penned by L. Frank Baum), and there are numerous stage, television and film adaptations, but the most beloved of them all is the 1939 musical from MGM. In terms of popularity it has all but eclipsed the book it was based on, wonderful as it is. Heck, I didn’t learn until I was older that the film was even based on a book (because what kid actually reads the opening credits of a movie, even one they’ve seen a thousand times before they learned how to read?) But I’m not here to talk about the differences between the book and the movie (except for when they’re relevant), I’m looking at the movie itself.

Like I said before, The Wizard of Oz was one of the earliest movies I remember watching. I still have the 50th anniversary VHS and to this day I can’t watch the DVD without missing the cute Downy commercial of the kids putting on their own production of Oz that played before it. It was one of the first musicals where I had the songs almost completely memorized. I played out the story with my toys, Dorothy narrowly beat out Snow White as the character I would dress up as the most for Halloween (I would wear a pair of sparkly jelly shoes for the ruby slippers, just to give you an idea of how old I am), I saw a live version with my Girl Scout troop at Madison Square Garden starring Mickey Rooney, Eartha Kitt and Ken Page, and like with Beauty and the Beast, I would walk around with a wicker basket and act out the movie as it played on tv. As I got older I went through the whole “it’s just a dumb kid’s movie” phase that we’ve all gone through, but thankfully that didn’t last very long and it’s earned a lasting place in my favorite films collection.

Truth be told, this is going to be a hard one to cover, not only because I love this movie to pieces and know almost everything there is to know about it, but simply because what CAN you say about The Wizard of Oz that hasn’t already been said? Even if you haven’t seen it odds are you know the story and characters thanks to countless parodies, homages and plain old-fashioned pop cultural osmosis. Being a top contender for the most quoted and recognizable movie ever made didn’t come overnight, however. When it first premiered in 1939, The Wizard of Oz was something of a financial failure due to going massively over budget as well as some infamous behind-the-scenes disasters. It picked up two Oscars for its music as well as an honorary one for Judy Garland’s performance and a nomination for Best Film, but wasn’t until a few theatrical re-releases and a national tv airing of it in the 50’s that a new generation finally saw it for the classic it was destined to be.

But why does it still resonate with us almost eighty years later? Is it worth being put on a pop culture pedestal? And what’s more, can I both analyze and have some fun with it without getting burned at the stake? Let’s take a look.

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Gravity Falls Review: “Boyz Crazy” (S01E17)

If you’re new to the blog or just want to revisit from the beginning, click HERE to read the review for “Tourist Trapped”.

Previously on Gravity Falls:
Dipper and Mabel Pines are spending the summer with their Grunkle Stan in the weird little town of Gravity Falls, where he runs a tourist trap called the Mystery Shack. While Dipper has to deal with his crush Wendy dating an emo jerk named Robbie, Mabel has already befriended oddballs Candy and Grenda and spends any time she’s not out uncovering mysteries with her brother doing girl stuff with them and dealing with her rival Pacifica Northwest.

 

Dipper and Wendy are wasting time doing funny dubs over the security camera footage (a field I am an expert in, if I do say so myself) when Mabel surprises them with some news; tonight she, Candy and Grenda are going to see their favorite boy band, Sev’ral Timez, live in concert. They’re blue-eyed blonde nonthreatening performers that look like they’re refugees from the cultural backwash that was the early 2000’s, but Mabel refuses to see them as anything other than dreamboats. She leaves Wendy and Dipper to their jokes about how all boy bands are all mass produced from the noise-polluting machine that is the American music industry and prepares for her perfect night.

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Pictured: My sister’s room, circa. 1998.

Robbie enters the Shack to ask Wendy out on a date, but Wendy’s ready to tear him a new one after he’s stood her up one too many times without apologizing. She suggests they see other people to Dipper’s delight, but Robbie plays his trump card – music. He plays her a song he wrote and performed on a black CD from a very ominous case.

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Available now from Raimi-Campbell Records.

One listen and Wendy instantly changes her mind about Robbie. Dipper’s suspicions fall on deaf ears as the girls leave for their respective dates. Unfortunately the concert is sold out, and Mabel learns that Pacifica and her friends snagged the last tickets. Mabel, not one to give up over a little thing like that, sneaks her friends in through the back so they can meet their dream boys and prove Dipper wrong about boy bands being clones. They find the dressing room and when they get inside –

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