My Girl comes in from an era when Macaulay Culkin was a very big deal and coming of age movies were to be sobered down to a level of mildness that a 90’s audience can handle. Director Howard Zieff and writer Laurice Elehwany attempt to explore a darker aspect of life (death), by toning the movie in a much lighter narrative. This could have seemed like a wonderful idea on paper, but not so much on screen.
The reason My Girl falls short on being a great movie is simply because there are one too many irregularities when it comes to character intentions and obstacles. Anna Chlumsky is fantastic as the lead character, Vada, and Jamie Lee Curtis breezed by in her role like it was a walk down the street. But the acting managed to hit a mark, where the characterisations were all over the place.
Vada is a hypochondriac, somehow impacted by the death of her mother who she’d never met, or remembered. Her father is an awkward widower who runs a funeral home and somehow doesn’t understand (or even bother connecting with) his daughter. If you haven’t noticed already, the primary theme, ‘death’ is hurled at you in so many ways that I wish Zieff would’ve at least resorted to being simply metaphoric in some places. Now these conflicts, although having clear expositions, are very underwritten and hence entirely unexplained. Vada’s relationship with her best friend, her crush on her teacher, her love for her alzheimer’s stricken grandma and her amusement with Curtis’ character are all played out well. However, while they all seem like they’d contribute to something intimately deeper, they just end up being extra colours on an incomplete landscape painting.
Eventually, the resolution to all said conflicts somehow magically comes out of nowhere, when in actuality, the climax should have messed up Vada more. This movie can be watched for some applaudable performances, and if you’re in the mood for a 90’s movie’s attempt at a tear jerker. But in the end it’s likely to keep you short of content, and have you wonder about too many shortcomings that this movie seems to have conveniently overseen.