Oldies New to DVD/Blu-ray Oldies New to DVD/Blu-ray

        

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, March 19, 2021

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: A forgotten gem of the early 1990s is this comedy-drama that focuses on then-pre-teen Anna Chlumsky’s winning performance. Now age 40, Chlumsky has been in many films and TV shows, earning six Emmy nominations for her role on HBO’s ‘Veep.’ Sony Home Entertainment has given the film a new Blu-ray release, as a double feature with its sequel. This review was published in the Deseret News on Nov. 26, 1991 (and the review of its sequel will be in this space next week).

 

"My Girl" is a wonderful surprise, a delightful comedy for its first three-quarters, then a very touching, somewhat wrenching tragedy, albeit with an optimistic outcome.

 

That tragedy toward the film's end has been well-publicized and I'm going to talk about it here — so if you don't want to know, read no further.

 

The tragedy involves a supporting character played by Macaulay Culkin, who, of course, had the lead role in "Home Alone." If you're thinking of taking your children to "My Girl," you should know that Culkin's character dies at the end. There's also a scene that shows him in a casket at the funeral.

 

        

      Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, 'My Girl' (1991)

 

If you have impressionable little ones, especially if they are "Home Alone" fans, you may want to think twice before taking them to "My Girl."

 

That said, this is an excellent film, embracing parent-child communication, family values and an approach to understanding death that is both healthy and conveyed in an intelligent manner.

 

As mentioned, most of the way this is a comedy, focusing on Vada, played by newcomer Anna Chlumsky. She is a spunky 11-year-old living in a small town in 1972, when much of the world is in transition from the swinging ’60s.

 

But Vada's father Harry (Dan Aykroyd), a widowed mortician, seems oblivious to world events — and much of the time to his own daughter.

 

Into their lives comes Shelly (Jamie Lee Curtis), a free-thinking cosmetologist who thinks she's applying for a beauty salon job but is instead hired to put makeup on Harry's customers. Gradually, she and Harry hit it off and Vada begins to feel jealous.

 

        

 

Vada is something of a hypochondriac, feigning illnesses on a regular basis and obsessed with a fear of death. This has something to do with her father's occupation but more to do with her mother's death. Culkin is her sympathetic best friend, a frail boy who is allergic to everything.

 

All of this is played for gentle and occasionally hilarious comedy, with excellent performances all around. But Chlumsky is particularly good, a real find in a season when we've had several films with fine very young actors.

 

As mentioned, the final act goes for the heart as it becomes a serious tearjerker. This switch doesn't feel contrived and it's played out realistically — but casting Culkin in the role may have been a serious mistake, as parents could rightly resent the hero of "Home Alone" being seen by their children as a tragic figure.

 

"My Girl" is rated PG for a few profanities, a mild scene of violence and the dead bodies in the mortuary.