Welcome to Beloved Coming-of-Age Week: Day 3. Today, we will be talking about one of the most-known films that pretty much everyone has seen at this point, My Girl. Don’t worry, though. Even though this film is 26 years old, I will refrain from any spoilers. However, just the fact that you can spoil a coming-of-age movie should interest you. If something is common among coming-of-age films, it’s never really having any surprises, and that’s ultimately what My Girl has – which played a huge part in making this film memorable for ages to come.
My Girl centers around the life of Vada (Anna Chlumsky), an 11-year-old girl who grew up around death, ultimately making her obsessed with the idea, without fully understanding it. Living as a hypochondriac, she thinks she is dying from every possible disease. Alongside her is Thomas J (Macaulay Culkin), her best friend in life, a boy who may actually be dying of everything – considering his life is centered around having an “allergy to everything”. The two make one of the best and most memorable friendships in cinema history. When her father announces he is being married again, Vada must balance the extremes of life, love, and death and try to separate the importance between them. In some ways, so does her father.
As far as I can remember, this film was exactly how I remembered it…save for one thing. I’m actually shocked as to how much focus is on Vada and how little focus they had on Thomas J. Yes, Culkin is in quite a bit of the movie, but just as this random kid that hangs out with her throughout the film. We unfortunately, don’t know his life story other than being allergic to everything. Other than that, you see he makes a good friend for Vada, but it seems a little unfair not to have focused in on more of his story. At the same time, we have to consider how much focus would be too much focus? We already have two main storylines going on at once, Vada and her father’s story – and how they are similar to one another…and that is important enough not to lose focus on…so I’m a little torn overall.
Everything being said, My Girl will probably shine brightly against the other films I’m reviewing this week. If there was a winner of coming-of-age tales…it might just be My Girl…but first, let’s get right into the details and break the film down.
PEOPLE SCORE – 10/10
Acting – 2|Characters – 2|Casting – 2|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 2
First off, we have the people score, which got a perfect scoring. We first have the acting, which is actually rather good because all of the actors have a bit of a roller coaster of emotions that they eventually have to sport, and they all do really well with that. Each character was truly memorable in general as well as being very important in adding to the plot. I really don’t think anyone else could’ve played these roles, but that may be all thanks to the film being iconic. Finally, everyone worked really well together.
WRITING SCORE – 10/10
Dialogue – 2|Balanced – 2|Story – 2|Originality – 2|Interesting – 2
Next, we have the writing score, which also got a perfect score. The dialogue was surprisingly memorable and well-written. The jokes work well, the drama works just as well. The story itself was extremely well balanced, and it told a really unique and important story about death, life, love, and what those things mean for people all around. Finally, of course, it’s interesting.
BTS SCORE – 9/10
Visuals – 2|Directing – 2|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 2|Music – 2
The BTS score got one point under a perfect scoring. The only thing that didn’t really impress me was the editing, which more or less seemed typical for other films like it. The visuals were pretty good though, and that came down to a mixture of both director of photography and director. The director of photography was able to pick some really nice places to shoot a scene that looks great in general, and the director was able to effectively master the camera to utilize those shots as best as possible, and it shows off. I consider it as advertised and so much of the music is fantastic.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 9/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 1|Climax – 2| Falling Action – 2
The narrative arc score, like the BTS score, nearly got a perfect score. Where did it falter? Well, it didn’t really have obstacles because there wasn’t a massive plot direction. While there were obstacles in general, they were plot specific. The introduction was fine, as we understand who everyone is, we learn about all of the friendships and everything, and what’s going on in their basement. The inciting incident, I would argue, is when you stop thinking she’s just a funny girl that thinks she’s dying all the time, and start realizing there might actually be some confusion in her due to some neglect from a sad father. The climax basically deals with that obsession and confusion with death in a rather surprising and bold way, and the falling action returns to a new norm really well.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 7/10
Rewatchability – 2|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 1|Impulse/Talk – 1|Sucks Audience In – 1
How entertaining is it? Don’t worry, it’s rather rare for me to give movies perfect ratings in this category. Those are held for OMG YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS OMG films. A 7/10 actually means the movie is really entertaining. The rewatchability is high up there, it is so fun to experience while you watch it. I would love to own it, but I don’t see myself buying it anytime soon. I wouldn’t mind discussing it with others, but I’m not going to pull my hair out if I don’t, and it sucks the audience in here and there, just not all of the time.
TOTAL SPECIAL – 50/50
Coming-of-Age – 10|Comedy – 10|Drama – 10|Macaulay Culkin – 10|Memory – 10
Alright, so how about the specialty questions that I wrote before seeing the movie? First, we want to know how the coming-of-age is, given the week is just that. It’s definitely coming-of-age, but it has that glue that keeps it interesting and gives you a reason to keep watching. While there isn’t an overall story that it’s following, it’s following a theme constantly, a unique theme, which makes this film worth the watch. Next up, how was the comedy? It was honestly really good. I found myself chuckling here and there, to downright laughing in other parts. Likewise with the drama. The film knew how to balance both ends of the spectrum and even a comedian like Dan Aykroyd showed some impressive dramatic acting. Next, how was Macaulay Culkin in the film? Well, interestingly enough, he wasn’t focused on too terribly much, he’s just a random best friend – but this is one of his most memorable roles all around, so I have to give that full points. Finally, was it halfway decent? Absolutely.