My Girl (film)

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This article is about the 1991 film. For the 2003 Thai film, see Fan Chan.
My Girl
A girl holding her hand on her head and laughing, and a boy laughing in the background
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Howard Zieff
Produced by Brian Grazer
Written by Laurice Elehwany
Starring
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Paul Elliot
Production
company
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • November 27, 1991 (1991-11-27)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $17 million[1]
Box office $59.5 million[1]

My Girl is a 1991 American comedy-drama film directed by Howard Zieff and written by Laurice Elehwany. The film, starring Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky in her feature film debut, depicts the coming-of-age of a young girl who faces many different emotional highs and lows. Also starring Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis.

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

Plot[edit]

In the summer of 1972 in Madison, Pennsylvania, Vada Sultenfuss is an 11-year-old tomboy and a hypochondriac. Vada's father, Harry Sultenfuss, 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, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Harry's brother Phil, 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, 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, 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, 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 period ; 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). Vada is devastated by Thomas J.'s death; so much that she doesn't even leave her bedroom. Soon after, Vada discovers that Mr. Bixler is about to get married to someone else. Shelly and Harry get into an argument at a memorial service held for Thomas J, where 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 starts to hang out with another girl named Judy, and not only comes to terms with her pain and grief, but also overcomes some of her previous issues as well. She also says that she swallowed the chicken bone, she and Judy are going to be in the same home room and the Republican Party just re-nominated Mr. Nixon.

Cast[edit]

  • Dan Aykroyd as Harry Sultenfuss: Vada's father and the manager of Sultenfuss' funeral parlor in Madison, Pennsylvania.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis as Shelly DeVoto: The new make-up artist at the funeral home. She is an experienced cosmetologist from Detroit, Michigan and later Harry's fiancée.
  • Macaulay Culkin as Thomas J. Sennett: A fragile young boy who is allergic to "everything." He is also Vada's best friend and neighbor.
  • Anna Chlumsky as Vada Sultenfuss: The central character. A tomboyish girl, full of medical issues, including a chicken bone lodged in her throat.
  • Richard Masur as Phil Sultenfuss: Harry's brother and Vada's uncle. He works with Harry and gives him advice when Harry starts dating Shelly.
  • Griffin Dunne as Mr. Jake Bixler: Vada's fifth grade teacher whom she has a crush on. He teaches an adult poetry writing class during the summer.
  • Ann Nelson as Gramoo Sultenfuss: Vada's absent-minded grandmother and Harry and Phil's mother. She suffers from Alzheimer's disease and spends a majority of the time in a chair in the living room.

Reception[edit]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives a score of 50% based on reviews from 14 critics.[2] Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4.[3] Variety wrote, "Plenty of shrewd commercial calculation went into concocting the right sugar coating for this story of an 11-year-old girl's painful maturation, but [the] chemistry seems right."[4]

Music[edit]

The soundtrack of the film contains several 1960s and 1970s pop hits in addition to the title song (by The Temptations), including "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 Vada gets upset, she 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".[5]
  • The end of heavy metal band Anthrax's 1993 album Sound of White Noise, samples of Vada's teacher Mr. Bixler as he says, "Be dangerous and unpredictable...and make a lot of noise". 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]

  1. ^ a b "My Girl". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  2. ^ "My Girl (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (1991-11-27). "My Girl". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2015-06-15 – via RogerEbert.com. 
  4. ^ "Review: 'My Girl'". Variety. 1991. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  5. ^ The O.C. Season 1 "The Heights" November 5, 2003 The Heights (The O.C.)

External links[edit]