Prayer Focus
Movie Review

My Girl

Originally rated PG-13, re-rated PG on appeal

Reviewed by: Tony John
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Comedy/Drama
Length:
1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release:
1991
Box art for “My Girl”

Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Macaulay Culkin, Anna Chlumsky | Directed by: Howard Zieff | Produced by: Brian Grazer, Joseph M. Caracciolo, David T. Friendly | Written by: Laurice Elehwany | Distributor: Columbia

My Girl is a bittersweet, slice-of-life tale of Vada Sultenfuss, a precocious 11 year old girl struggling with issues of death, loss and friendship. Little wonder why. To begin with, Veda’s widowed father, Harry (Dan Aykroyd) runs a funeral home. Her mother died two days after her birth, for which she feels responsible. Veda wrestles for the attention of her father after Shelly DeVoto (Jamie Lee Curtis) is hired on as an assistant. Harry is caring, but rather aloof towards Veda. Her grandmother, who lives with them, is only half there. Therefore the only person Veda can confide with is her neighborhood friend, Thomas J. (Macaulay Culkin), whom she eventually loses as well.

There are only a couple of very mild profanities that you’d miss if you weren’t paying attention. Violence is non-existent although Harry sucker-punches Shelly’s jerky ex-husband when he rudely interrupts their 4th of July cookout. But the movie succeeds as Veda draws us into her life. She occasionally shares, by way of narration, her fears and worries with the audience alone. We care for Veda and want to help her deal with her burdens.

I had forgotten how much I love this film. Without going for belly laughs, “My Girl” is much too witty and charming to be a drama and too dramatic to be a comedy. This was released shortly after “Home Alone” and was marketed on the strength of Macaulay Culkin’s popularity at the time. Actually, Culkin’s role is only supportive and it seems he’s merely reciting lines. Clearly, it’s Anna Chlumsky’s movie. She carries the entire film with charm and professionalism way beyond her years. I would not be afraid to show this film to anyone. Above all, bring a hanky.

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Positive—For those of you who cried foul on BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA (BTT) (2007), I see that you have not seen MY GIRL (1991). Shame. Death is very much part of life and for all that we tried, we can’t cover the eyes of the little children from it. My mother was murdered in-front of my eyes when I was nine years old. Her death had a lasting impression on me, so the movies is one of my escapism even those that deals with the very young and the “fragileness” of life.

“MY GIRL,” like BTT, is about two young children who became friends during a time of summer fun. Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is a hypochondriac because in the environment that she grew up in. Her dad, Harry (Dan Aykroyd), is an undertaker which makes her home a funeral parlor, her mother had died when she was only two, and her grandmother has alzheimer. She befriended the next door neighbor Thomas J. Sennett (Macaulay Culkin), and the two young friends made a pact.

Vada is growing up and curious about life and love. She have a crush on Mr. Bixler (Griffin Dunne), her writing teacher. Her dad is getting married to the maker-up artist, Shelley DeVoto (Jamie Lee Curtis), who worked for them. Vada shared a first kiss with Thomas J and they played out in the woods behind their back yard. Here is where she lost her Mood Ring and Thomas J went back to retrieved it and tragedy strikes.

There was not a dried eye. There I was with my cousin and best friend, two teenage boys with red eyes in the dark theater. “MY GIRL” is a sweet and saccharine-filled movie, but one with a dose of reality. The breakout performance here is Anna Chlumsky. She embodied Vada fully and we wanted the very best for her. Macaulay Culkin did fine as the nerdy Thomas J after the popular “HOME ALONE” hit. The adults filled in there spot well, like Jamie Lee Curtis’ Shelley who understands Vada’s struggle in becoming a young woman.

Christians are no exception to tragedy and the movies does not have to have a happy ending. Just as much as we want our kids to know God, the only way to Heaven before Jesus’ return, is to died from this Earthly flesh. So again, Hollywood failed in making great movies, but they also made some poignant film that whether it be religious or not, they are still powerful and sweet, because there is hope after death. God’s love is not safe. It has consequences. Be prepared and communicate with your child about God’s love when you’re not here for them.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Mang Yang, age 35