My Girl

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My Girl, a 1991 film, introduces Annette Chlumsky as Vada, a precocious 11-year-old girl who can't get any normal adult attention from Harry, her widowed undertaker father (Dan Akroyd) or her grandmother who doesn't respond to anyone. She refuses to play with girls her own age, preferring the company of boys or unrelated adults. In the opening act of the movie, she fakes being sick (see hypochondriac) and teases some little boys of her acquaintance by pretending her grandmother is a not-quite-dead corpse. She gets more attention from her father's assistant.

Shelly, an attractive divorcee, starts working for her father as a makeup artist and takes an interest in Vada. Shortly after being refused $35 from her father to take a creative writing class, Vada is invited to Shelley's camper, where she discovers a cookie jar full of money. In the next scene, she has enrolled in a creative writing class taught by the schoolteacher she has a crush on. Shelly and Harry go out to play bingo, watched by Vada; afterwards, they share a romantic moment. At the Fourth of July picnic, her ex-husband shows up to claim the camper; Harry slugs him and threatens him.

When she notices that Shelly is wearing a new ring, her father announces they are engaged to be married before the end of the summer. Vada runs away with Thomas (Macaulay Culkin) for all of one day. The next morning, she screams because she hemorrhaging and believes herself to be pregnant. Shelly has "the talk" with her, and strangely they bond over this. Not long after her father's first kiss in 20 years (with Shelly), Vada kisses Thomas.

Tragedy strikes when Thomas returns to the bees' nest the two had knocked down near the lake. He finds the mood ring she had lost (always black), but when he prods the beehive they swarm out and overcome him (he dies of allergic reaction). Vada is overcome with grief, makes a scene at funeral and runs over to her teacher's house. "I love you the way Shelly loves my father." The teacher introduces his fiancee, which upsets Vada further.

The happy ending comes when Vada expresses her sadness in poetry and finally makes friends with a little girl her age. Shelly has been the catalyst in all this.

My Girl 2

In the sequel, with most of the same cast, Vada takes on a challenging school assignment to research the life of a person who accomplished something admirable, but whom she's never met. She flies to Los Angeles to learn about her mother, who died two days after giving birth to her. She's picked up at the airport by Nick, sent by her Uncle Phil. Unlike My Girl, which may have been intended as a romantic comedy, the sequel has some funny lines.

Vada: "You're Nick's mother?" Rose, who works at Uncle Phil's car repair shop: "Did you think he was raised by wolves? Don't be misled by the haircut."

Nick goes with Vada to find her mother's high school, but it had closed after a fire. They find her yearbook in a book warehouse and visit her old classmates. Sgt. Tanaka is a cop, who reveals Vada's mother was suspended 2 weeks for smoking. Ben Stein plays a wedding photographer who had a crush on Vada's mother. They visit an aging poet who doesn't remember Maggie and tells Vada people don't read poetry but watch television ("Don't be a poet; be a TV repairman.") Saddened at finding nothing substantial about her mother from these people, Vada is taken by Nick to La Brea tar pits to cheer her up ("at least I'm not extinct like they are", he quips). He tries on her ring and teases her by pretending to drop her treasured reminder of her dead best friend, who was a boy if not a boyfriend.

At last she tracks down the man who had married her mother before she was born; no, he's not her real father, but he did have great home movies of her beautiful mother and a great story about how they went to New York to become actors and got married outside a French restaurant. Finally Vada discovers that her mother's greatest accomplishment was giving birth to her.

Recommendations

Each movie is likely to be of interest to 11-13 year old girls.