Growing up is complicated and confusing. It was for many (as it was when I was that age) a day to day experience that has the potential to stay with us long after childhood is over.
In the 1994 film My Girl 2, (the sequel to My Girl) Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is now a full fledged teenager. Her father, Harry (Dan Aykroyd) is trying to pretend that his little girl is not growing up, but it is a fruitless endeavor. Summer is on the horizon. Vada’s pregnant stepmother Shelly (Jamie Lee Curtis) convinces her husband to send Vada to Los Angeles for a vacation.
In California, Vada is staying with her uncle, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s son Nick (Austin O’Brien). Over break, she has to fulfill a school assignment: write an essay on someone whom she admires, but has never met. The easy answer is Vada’s late mother. Nick is unhappily tasked with being Vada’s tour guide. As they begin to look in her mother’s past, the job that seemed easy reveals itself to be more difficult than expected.
I adore this movie. It is funny, charming, adorable, and instantly takes me back to that time in my life. Though Vada is living in the early 1970’s, the experiences and the questions she has are universal.
Yesterday was the 26th anniversary of the initial release My Girl.
Set in 1972, Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is a young lady on the verge of her teenage years. She lives with her widowed father Harry (Dan Aykroyd), who runs a funeral home and spends her free time with her best friend, Thomas J. Sennett (Macaulay Culkin). Life seems pretty steadfast, but things about to change. First there is her father’s new girlfriend, Shelly DeVoto (Jamie L. Curtis) and then there is Vada’s crush on her much older teacher, Mr. Bixler (Griffin Dunne). It’s going to be an interesting summer.
This movie, is both unique to two distinct groups of audience members and universal, if such a thing is possible. For those who were Vada’s age in the early 1970’s, it’s a trip down memory lane. For my generation, it is a reminder of our late preteen years and how long ago that feels. But it is also universal because we were all that age once and we all had to deal with a new set of complications and grey areas that we were not aware of previously.
The movie also has a killer soundtrack with some of the greatest songs ever produced.
I can’t believe it’s been 26 years since this movie hit theaters. If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend that you do. I would also recommend that you have a box of Kleenex nearby. Trust me, you will need it.
In the early 1990’s Macaulay Culkin was the child star of the moment. His face was everywhere. His movies stayed on the list of box office top ten lists for weeks. There were even product lines from his movies (Does anyone else remember the Talkboy?).
In 1991, Culkin starred in one of the most heartbreaking movies of my generation’s early years, My Girl. Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is on the verge of her teenage years. Her mother is dead and her father Harry (Dan Aykroyd) runs a funeral home. In love with her much older English teacher, Vada joins his poetry class to try to catch his eye. Vada’s best friend, Thomas (Culkin), is allergic to everything. Adding to the mix is that her father is starting to fall for Shelly DeVoto (Jamie Lee Curtis), the makeup artist at Harry’s funeral home.
This movie, despite being set in the 1960’s, speaks to the preteen in all of us. Vada’s journey through this film is recognizable to anyone who lived through the emotionally and physically turbulent preteen and early teenage years.
Three years later, Culkin starred in Richie Rich, a live action film based on the comic of the same name. Richie Rich (Culkin) is the wealthiest child in the world. But what he really wants is friends. Representing his father at a factory opening, Richie sees some kids playing baseball. But they prefer to play without him. Then Richie’s parents disappear and Lawrence Van Dough, the #2 man at Rich Industries is the main suspect. Richie must gain control of the company and find his parents, with the help of his new friends.
This movie is a bit over the top, but so is the premise of the comic book. What I like about the movie is the underlying message is that money cannot buy happiness and is never the replacement for the ones who love you most.
There is an old saying about the road to perdition, that is paved with good intentions.
Master Sargent Ernest G. Bilko is on that road. While his methods are unusual, he tries to do what is right, but in his own way.
In the 1996 movie Sgt. Bilko, the titular character, played by Steve Martin, runs the motor pool at a Kansas army base. Based on the 1950’s television show starring Phil Silvers, Sgt. Bilko does not always run the most honest of operations. But his commanding officer, Colonel John T Hall (Dan Aykroyd) has bigger fish to fry. The army is closing bases and the Colonel is concerned that his base is next.
Enter Major Colin Thorn (the late Phil Hartman). Major Thorn’s job is to inspect the bases and report back to his superiors about which bases to keep open and which bases to close. When he hears that Sgt. Bilko is the man in charge of the motor pool, Major Thorn will do anything to get back at the man who he feels wronged him.
To be fair, I have never seen the original television program, so I cannot make any comparisons to the movie adaptation. But I can say that this movie is exceptionally funny. Sgt. Bilko has a good heart, but his scheming con artist ways always seem to trump doing what is right.
James Brown is a music legend. His music has spawned several genres and produced countless imitators.
The new biopic of his life, Get On Up is presently in theaters. Chadwick Boseman, who last year played another ground breaking icon, Jackie Robinson, in 42, takes on the role of the Godfather Of Soul. James Brown grew in Augusta, Georgia, in extremely poor circumstances. His mother, Susie Brown (Viola Davis) abandoned her son as a boy, leaving him to be raised by Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer). His rise to the top of the music scene is legendary, while his life is a mass of contradictions. He was a perfectionist performer, who doted on his family, but married several times over and was abusive to one of his wives. His manager Ben Bart (Dan Akroyd) and his best friend Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis) stand by him through the highs and lows of his life.
I’m not sure if I liked this movie. While I can foresee nominations for Davis, Boseman (who completely disappears into the part) and Ellis, the movie is a little long for my taste. As a biopic is not too over-dramatic, nor does it skip over it’s lead character’s worst qualities. But there are certain scenes that I would have left for the extras part of the DVD instead of leaving it on the theatrical release.
The 2000 film adaptation of the novel stars Gillian Anderson as Lily Bart. She is the star of the social scene, but foolish when it comes to financial matters. She turns down several marriage offers and has a will they or wont they flirtation with Lawrence Selden (Eric Stoltz). When she innocently accepts money from Gus Trenor (Dan Akroyd), who is married to her best friend Judy (Penny Downie), her social standing begins to fall.
I saw this movie for the first time last night and though I have yet to read the book, I will do so shortly. Edith Wharton, in this novel is a feminist. She writes about upper class women, who in the early 20th century were expected to marry. Education beyond a certain point and a career was out of the question. Lily is unmarried; a woman’s reputation or lack there of, especially a unmarried woman’s reputation at that time could be her best friend or her worst enemy. Anderson who is best known for her role as Dana Scully on the X-Files, completely breaks with the iconic sci-fi character to play a woman whose life spirals out of control.
The supporting cast includes Jodhi May, Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Linney and Anthony LaPaglia.