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.
When one chooses to become an actor, they don’t choose (if they are able to make a decent living) to play the same type of character over and over again. Which is why the choice to play against type is exciting The question is, will this actor succeed in playing a role that the audience does not see coming?
In the 1993 film, The Good Son, Mark (Elijah Wood) has just lost his mother. When his father goes on a business trip to Asia, he is sent Maine to stay with his aunt and uncle. Mark spends his days with his cousin Henry (Macaulay Culkin). Henry initially seems like the average kid. Somewhere along the way, he starts to show a side of himself that is darker and scarier than Mark could have ever imagined.
Back in the day, the reviewers had mixed responses to the film. To be completely honest, I have not seen the movie in full. I just remember seeing part of it in the early 90’s and getting chills watching Culkin play this child who is far from Kevin McCallister as you can get.
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 something about your favorite holiday movie. You’ve seen it an untold number of times over the years. You can easily quote the screenplay and you know the in jokes that only a super fan knows.
Twenty four years ago, a little holiday movie made it’s debut in movie theaters. It was the story of a young boy who is left home on Christmas and must protect his house from burglars. That movie is Home Alone.
Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is the youngest child of loud and rowdy family. After getting into another fight with his older brother, Buzz (Devin Ratray) Kevin is sent to the attic to sleep. The next morning, Kevin wakes up to find the house empty. The electricity shorted the night before, causing the family to nearly miss their flight to Paris for vacation. In their rush to get to the airport, Kevin was forgotten about. The first few days of being alone is bliss, until Kevin must defend his house from Marv (Daniel Stern) and Harry (Joe Pesci) a couple of burglars who are looking to take advantage of the empty houses.
This movie is a classic. It is the story of brains over brawns, youth vs. adults. It also reflects the craziness that many of us go through during December and what is really important this time of year.
Two years later, the audience was back in Kevin’s life. In Home Alone 2 (1992), the McCallisters are again getting ready for Christmas vacation. They prepare the night before, make sure they are packed and have the alarms set. And yet again, chaos ensues when the family nearly misses the flight. Kevin is with his family, but this time they get separated at the airport. Kevin gets on a plane to New York City and his family goes elsewhere. Armed with his father’s credit card and plenty of cash, the city is his playground. That is until Harry and Marv show up and Kevin must again defend himself from the duo.
As sequels go, this movie is not that bad. Though anyone who knows New York City will tell you that the geography of Manhattan is not 100% accurate in this movie. But that’s ok.