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.