Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Girl

My Girl; tragicomedy, USA, 1991; D: Howard Zieff, S: Anna Chlumsky, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Macaulay Culkin, Griffin Dunne

Madison, Pennsylvania in summer of '73: the 11-year old Vada lives alone with her father Harry with whom she would love to talk or secretly go through an adventure, but he doesn't have a time for her since he is a busy undertaker working in the basement, whereas he also subconsciously can't get over the fact that his wife died at childbirth. Vada's friend is the allergic kid Thomas J., and her big love is an intelligent English teacher. But, when one day the make-up artists Shelly is given the job in the funeral parlor and gets engaged to Harry, Vada becomes angry and jealous. When Thomas J. from an allergic reaction caused by a bee sting, Vada is crushed, but Shelly comforts her.

Excellent comedy, with serious bitter-sweet refrains about the difficult time of growing up, sympathetically sparkles with great characters and small, inessential moments that tell a lot about life. Even though it may at first seem that the actors and the setting in "My Girl" are overblown and kitschy, the director Howard Zieff avoided all traps and created a touching little coming-of-age film, a humorous family drama that was wonderfully based upon the melancholic screenplay by Laurice Elehwany where the only complaints could be directed at it's rather "loose" mood at times and vague end, while the critics praised it. Anna Chlumsky is brilliant as the heroine Vada and perfectly embodies all her emotions, from big crush on her English teacher, through her relationship with the 11-year old Thomas J. (especially in a funny little scene where she puts lipstick for the first time in her life and "seductively" exits her house to lay on the steps in front of him, but he just looks at her in confusement and asks: "Are your lips bleeding?") up to her jealousy of Shelly, which culminates in one memorable sequence in the amusement park in tune to the song "Bad Moon Rising". Dan Aykroyd as the untypically serious father Harry achieved one of the best roles of the year, and one of his best in his career.


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