My Girl (film)

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My Girl
A girl holding her hand on her head and laughing, with a boy in the background laughing.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Howard Zieff
Produced by Brian Grazer
Joseph M. Caracciolo
David T. Friendly
Written by Laurice Elehwany
Narrated by Anna Chlumsky
Starring Dan Aykroyd
Jamie Lee Curtis
Macaulay Culkin
Anna Chlumsky
Peter Michael Goetz
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Paul Elliot
Studio Imagine Entertainment
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates November 27, 1991 (1991-11-27)
Running time 102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $59,847,243

My Girl is a 1991 American drama film directed by Howard Zieff and written by Laurice Elehwany. The film depicts the coming-of-age of a young girl who faces many different emotional highs and lows and stars Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky in her feature film debut. The film also stars Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis, who also previously starred together in 1983's Trading Places.

A sequel, My Girl 2, was released in 1994.

Plot[edit]

In the summer of 1972 in Madison, Pennsylvania, Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is an 11-year-old tomboy and a hypochondriac. Vada's father, Harry Sultenfuss (Dan Aykroyd), is an awkward widower who does not understand his daughter, so he constantly ignores her. His profession as a funeral director, for which the Sultenfuss' residence serves as a funeral parlor, has led Vada to develop an obsession with death. She thinks that she killed her mother, who died giving birth to her. Vada regularly tends to her invalid grandmother Gramoo (Ann Nelson), who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Harry's brother Phil (Richard Masur), who lives nearby, also stops by frequently to help out the family.

Vada is teased by other girls and her best friend is Thomas J. Sennett (Macaulay Culkin), an unpopular boy who is allergic to "everything." One day, Vada gets squirted with a water gun by Thomas J., which makes Vada chase Thomas J. into the woods. Once there, they throw rocks at a hornet's nest and end up getting chased by hornets. During the encounter, Vada loses her mood ring.

Vada's summer begins well. She befriends Shelly DeVoto (Jamie Lee Curtis), the new make-up artist at her father's funeral parlor, who provides her with some much needed guidance. She is also infatuated with her teacher, Mr. Bixler (Griffin Dunne), and steals some money from the cookie jar in Shelly's trailer to attend a summer writing class that he is teaching. Soon things start to fall apart.

Her father and Shelly start dating and get engaged. Vada repeatedly bumps Shelly in the bumper cars at a nearby carnival park. Vada experiences her first menstrual cycle; Shelly explains it after Vada runs around the house yelling that she is hemorrhaging. A couple of days later, Vada and Thomas J. sit at the dock by the river, where they share an innocent first kiss. Thomas J. later goes into the forest to look for Vada's mood ring and finds it, but is stung by hornets from the detached nest, which Harry believed he had stepped on, and dies of an allergic reaction (and also loses his glasses). Soon after, Vada discovers that Mr. Bixler is about to get married to someone else. Shelly and Harry get into an argument at Thomas J.'s funeral, and Shelly angrily tells Harry that life isn't just about death, as well as not to ignore the living, especially his daughter.

Vada's grief manages to mend the rift between her and her father. She learns that her mother's death after her birth wasn't her fault (since her father explains to her that things like mothers dying in childbirth are not anybody's fault; they just happen without explanation). Eventually Vada makes a new friend, and not only comes to terms with her pain and grief, but also overcomes some of her previous issues as well.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

The film received mostly positive reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives a score of 50% based on reviews from 14 critics.[1]

Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4.[2]

Music[edit]

The soundtrack of the film contains many classic 1960s and 1970s pop hits in addition to the title song, including such oldies-radio staples as "Wedding Bell Blues" (The 5th Dimension), "If You Don't Know Me by Now" (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes), "Bad Moon Rising" (Creedence Clearwater Revival), "Good Lovin'" (The Rascals), and "Saturday in the Park" (Chicago). When she gets upset, Vada plugs her ears and sings "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", the Manfred Mann version of which is also included on the soundtrack album. In addition, Vada and Thomas J. play "The Name Game" and sing "Witch Doctor" in the film, and Vada has posters of the Broadway Musical "Hair", The Carpenters and Donny Osmond on her bedroom wall.

Cultural references[edit]

  • In the film Accepted, after Justin Long's character performs a cover of The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop", he lists "not crying at the end of My Girl" as one of the things he cannot do.
  • Thomas J.'s death is referenced in the The OC episode entitled "The Heights". After crying during an intense conversation with ex-girlfriend Marissa, Luke later tells her that he hasn't cried like that "since Macaulay Culkin died in My Girl".[3]
  • At the end of heavy metal band Anthrax's 1993 album Sound of White Noise, a sample of Vada's teacher Mr. Bixler saying "Be dangerous and unpredictable...and make a lot of noise" is used in the outro. Anthrax singer John Bush also sings this exact phrase on Sound of White Noise b-side track "Poison My Eyes" which was released on the Last Action Hero soundtrack in 1993.
  • The funeral scene in which Vada cries "Put on his glasses! He can't see without his glasses!" over Thomas J.'s body is constantly referenced and played during the popular Philadelphia morning show Preston and Steve whenever Preston is unable to read something.

References[edit]

External links[edit]