Don't You Forget About: My Girl

Sure, it's fun to catch the latest flick at the multiplex, or grab the newest release at a video store, but sometimes you just gotta say, "Out with the new, and in with the unknown." There are plenty of older flicks out there that are worth a rental, but never registered on your radar. In Don't You Forget About, we remember the long-gone gems, so you don't have to.

Photo: impaawards.com

When I was about 8-years-old, there was only one movie that I wanted to watch over and over again. In fact, I not only wanted to watch it, I wanted to be in it. I was obsessed with the main character, and thoroughly convinced that I'd become her when I grew up a few years. I wanted her tomboy attitude. I wanted her nerdy BFF. I wanted her quirky one-of-a-kind name. I wanted her perfectly oversized pocket tees. I wanted her weird home life. And most of all, I wanted her perfectly oval dollar store mood ring. Right now I guess you're probably saying to yourself what non-Disney movie character could possibly make me feel this way? Why Vada Sultenfuss, of course. 

In case you're still confused (and let's face it, you probably are), I'm talking about the girl in My Girl. You know the movie. The semi-romantic Macaulay Culkin dramedy that was released in between Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Okay, maybe you don't. But you should. Because the 1991 family-friendly flick wasn't just about giving Mac a break from all the face-slapping shenanigans. It was, and still is, it's own little big deal. 

As the famous song says, My Girl is like sunshine on a cloudy day. It's sweet, pleasantly surprising and undeniably warm.The Temptations-inspired title refers to the aforementioned Vada (Anna Chlumsky), an 11-year old hyperactive hypochondriac who lives with her widowed dad, Harry (Dan Aykroyd) and near-death's-door grandma in a suburban funeral home. Vada is somewhat of a self-imposed loner, pining after her young teacher, Mr. Bixler, rejecting the girlie girls at school and occasionally hanging with bespectacled boy, Thomas J. (Culkin). But things start looking up when her dad hires a cool, hippie chick named Shelley (Jamie Lee Curtis), who provides her with some make-up, sneak-peaks at romance novels and some money for Mr. Bixler's creative writing course. Well, the last part isn't quite a gift. Vada steals it.

Like the mood ring Vada wears religiously, My Girl smoothly moves back and forth between emotions, playing out like a 12-year-old girls' overactive imagination on a humid August afternoon. In one sense, it's like Six Feet Under for tweens, bringing light to the most morbid of family businesses and what it does to the living. But it's also a fun and carefree summer coming-of-age story,  guaranteed to make you nostalgic for the days when bikes were your best friend, you only wanted to be home for dinner, jumping fully-clothed into a lake seemed like a great idea and boys were still kinda icky. It sounds like an odd combination in theory, but it's kind of perfect in practice. Because when you're a tweenage girl, everything seems like it's a matter of life and death.

Anna Chumsky is pitch-perfect as the vivacious and vindictive Girl in question, delivering the character's quips quick and naturally, almost like they're her own. While she undoubtedly nails the stubborn sasspot side of Miss Sultenfuss' personality, she also manages to bring a sense of vulnerability to the otherwise confident character. Her wide-eyed face as she sees her dad kiss Shelley is devastating, showing us, without a word, that although she's seemingly ready to deal with all the lost lives around her, she's still not ready to accept the death of her parents' late romance.

At another point, Vada gets her first period and has a mini-meltdown, thinking that she's "hemorrhaging." After she learns the truth about the bloody mess, she still keeps up the drama, telling Thomas Jay to not come around for "five to seven days." It seems funny - and totally is - but it' strictly serious to the little lady. Although she's got a big personality and a big mouth, Vada also has a big heart, and every time something chips away at it, she gets one step closer to the breaking point. So when something actually major happens near the end of the movie, she falls to pieces. And so will the little not-so-tough tomboy inside of you.

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