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A coming-of-age comedy starring Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone) and newcomer Anna Chlumsky, MY GIRL is an irresistible story of first love and loss. Chlumsky makes an extraordinary acting debut as Vada Sultenfuss, a precocious 11-year-old tomboy obsessed with death. Dan Aykroyd is her widowed father, the town mortician, and Jamie Lee Curtis is the sexy cosmetician he employs. Macaulay Culkin, in another endearing performance, is Thomas J., the boy next door who idolizes Vada. Their summer adventures from first kiss to last farewell which introduce Vada to the worldof adolescence. The perfect film for parents to share with their children, MY GIRL is a motion picture to cherish.
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We see Veda tackle the issues of her mother's death, the absence of a female in their household and then the sudden appearance of one, her father's rebirth into living, and her coming of age, all with her steadfast friend Thomas J who loves her unconditionally, tagging along on her daily trips to the doctor even though he knows she's a hypochondriac and doing some other tasks of love that show that an 11 yo boy can love better than many adults, without any ask in return, against any risk.
While Veda is the clear frontrunner character in this film, I think Thomas's J story is actually more poignant on a 2nd watch of this film - his story is simple and subtle, and yet powerful.
BOTTOMLINE: You will be entertained, will cry a bit, will laugh a little. Worth a watch once if you've never seen it and twice or more if you have, even if you are young and never heard of it. It's timeless.
Set over the summer of 1972, the film centres on Vada Sultenfuss, a motherless eleven-year-old tom-boy who has enough problems coping with impending adulthood on top of having to contend with her oblivious mortician father Harry and her senile grandmother Gramoo. And if things were not bad enough, Harry hires an assistant in the form of the funky Shelly leaving Vada feeling her place in her father's life is threatens by this new woman. Thankfully she is not alone as seeing her through her troubles is her loyal best friend Thomas J.
While Dan Anckroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis, as Harry and Shelley respectively, were great in their roles as two adults who both care for Vada and who have a growing attraction to each other, it was the child actors who stole the show. Anna Chlumsky, in this her film debut, delivered a first class performance as Vada, depicting the all the little nuances of the character from the confusion a tom-boy feels as she tentatively embraces her girly side in deference to her first crush to the desolation of bereavement to the loneliness she feels due to her father's thoughtless neglect. She was excellent in showing Vada's childish innocence and rare maturity that comes when a child has dealt with the harsh side to life.
Macaulay Culkin was another surprise as he portrayed the guileless Thomas J. It was a pleasant change to see him in a role other than the obnoxious kid he usually depicted in previous films such as 'Home Alone' and 'Uncle Buck', and he rose to the occasion with flare, perfectly displaying the bumbling but sensitive and caring nature of his character. His performance here proves that, had he chosen to, he could have been one of the rare few who succeed in the seamless transition from being a child actor to a teen/young adult actor.
'My Girl' is so involving for a wide age group because it not only conjures up nostalgic memories of summers gone by in adults who occasionally long for the carefree bliss of childhood but it engages younger viewers into considering the lessons of loyalty, love, loss and growing up. It definitely strikes a cord in those who are eleven years old themselves (I was eleven when I first saw this film and felt as if I could identify with Vada on many things). Most girls of eleven will probably empathise with Vada's views that nothing happens to boys!
The girl is also raised by a mortician whose wife apparently died while giving birth to her. Thus, she has many hypochondriac episodes. The family doctor is also nice to her and realizes she'll grow out of it. But she also gets jealous when her father starts to find love.
The most wonderful thing about _My Girl_ is that it deals with serious issues like love, old age, and death in a very sensitive way. It explains them in terms that kids can understand, but it doesn't talk down to kids either. It's a movie old and young can appreciate and enjoy. You will laugh and cry, maybe even at the same time.