My Girl (film)

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My Girl
A girl holding her hand on her head and laughing, and a boy laughing in the background
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Howard Zieff
Produced by Brian Grazer
Written by Laurice Elehwany
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Paul Elliot
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • November 27, 1991 (1991-11-27)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $17 million[1]
Box office $59.5 million[1]

My Girl is a 1991 American comedy-drama film directed by Howard Zieff and written by Laurice Elehwany. The film, starring Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky in her feature film debut, depicts the coming-of-age of a young girl who faces many different emotional highs and lows. The film also stars Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis.[2]

A book based on the script was written by Patricia Hermes in 1991.[3] The film's sequel, My Girl 2, was released in 1994.


In the summer of 1972, in Madison, Pennsylvania, Vada Sultenfuss is an 11-year-old girl and a hypochondriac. Harry Sultenfuss, Vada's father, is an awkward widower and funeral director who does not understand his daughter, so he constantly ignores her. Their house, which operates as the town funeral home, has led his daughter to develop an obsession with death. Vada regularly cares for her grandmother, 'Gramoo', who has Alzheimer's disease and whose wandering mind likewise affects Vada. Her Uncle Phil lives near by and frequently stops by to help the family.

Vada hangs out with her best friend, Thomas J. Sennett, an unpopular boy her age who is allergic to "everything". However, other girls except Judy tease the two, thinking they are more than just friends. Thomas J. often accompanies Vada when she visits the doctor, who assures her that she is not sick and that she has no chicken bone stuck in her throat.

Vada's summer begins well. She befriends Shelly DeVoto, the new makeup artist at her father's funeral parlor, who provides her with guidance. She also develops a crush on her fifth-grade school teacher, Mr. Bixler, and hears about an adult poetry writing class that he is teaching. Vada steals some money from the cookie jar in Shelly's trailer to cover the cost of the class. When advised to write about what is in her soul, Vada fears that she killed her mother, who died two days after giving birth to her.

When Harry and Shelly start dating, this affects Vada's attitude towards Shelly. One night, Vada follows Harry and Shelly to a bingo game and brings Thomas J. along to disrupt it. On the Fourth of July, when Shelly's ex-husband Danny arrives, Vada hopes that he is there to take Shelly back, but to no avail. Vada becomes even more shocked when Harry and Shelly announce their engagement at a carnival, leading her to contemplate running away with Thomas J.

Vada is starting to see changes within herself. As she runs around screaming that she is hemorrhaging, Shelly politely explains to Vada that her first period is a completely natural process. As Vada realizes this only occurs with girls, she doesn't want to see Thomas J., who happens to come by shortly afterward. A couple of days later though, Vada and Thomas J. are sitting under a tree by the river, where they share an innocent first kiss.

Vada and Thomas J. come across a bee hive hanging from a tree, which Thomas J. decides to knock down. Vada loses her mood ring in the process, so they start looking for it, but the search is cut short as the bees start swarming, making them run away. Thomas J. later returns by himself and finds the ring. Unexpectedly, because he kicked the bee hive beforehand, the bees begin to swarm Thomas J. just as he finds the ring. Unable to escape, he dies from an allergic reaction.

Harry is left to deliver the tragic news to Vada, which devastates her so much that she will not even leave her bedroom. When she attends Thomas J.'s funeral, her emotions become so strong that she runs away. Vada hurries to Mr. Bixler's house, wanting to stay with him, and discovers that he is about to get married to someone else. She then runs to her and Thomas J.'s favorite spot near the tree to reflect on what has happened. When Vada returns home, everyone is relieved, including Shelly, whom Vada begins to accept as her future stepmother. Her grief also manages to mend the rift between her and her father. Harry explains to Vada that her mother's death wasn't her fault and things like that can happen without explanation.

Toward the end of summer, Vada and her father see Mrs. Sennett, who still struggles with her son's death. She gives Vada her mood ring back that Thomas J. had found and Vada gives Mrs. Sennett some comfort. On the last day of writing class, Vada reads a poem about the loss of her best friend before going out to spend time with her new friend Judy.



The film was moderately well received. Critics generally praised the performances and the maturity of its coming-of-age story.[4][5] Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives a score of 50% based on reviews from 14 critics, with an average rating of 5.5 out of 10.[6] Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4.[4] Variety wrote, "Plenty of shrewd commercial calculation went into concocting the right sugar coating for this story of an 11-year-old girl's painful maturation, but [the] chemistry seems right."[7]


The soundtrack of the film contains several 1960s and 1970s pop hits in addition to the title song (by The Temptations), including "Wedding Bell Blues" (The 5th Dimension), "If You Don't Know Me by Now" (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes), "Bad Moon Rising" (Creedence Clearwater Revival), "Good Lovin'" (The Rascals), and "Saturday in the Park" (Chicago). When Vada gets upset, she plugs her ears and sings "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", the Manfred Mann version of which is also included on the soundtrack album. In addition, Vada and Thomas J. play "The Name Game" and sing "Witch Doctor" in the film, and Vada has posters of the Broadway Musical Hair, The Carpenters, and Donny Osmond on her bedroom wall.[2]


  1. ^ a b "My Girl". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  2. ^ a b My Girl. Dir. Howard Zieff. Perf. Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis. Columbia TriStar Home Video, 2005. Netflix. Web. 25 August 2016.
  3. ^ Hermes, Patricia; Elehwany, Laurice (1991-12-01). My Girl (FIRST EDITION 4th Printing ed.). New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 9780671759292. 
  4. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (1991-11-27). "My Girl". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2015-06-15 – via 
  5. ^ Hinson, Hal. "'My Girl' (PG)." Washington Post. 27 November 1991. 25 August 2016.
  6. ^ "My Girl (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  7. ^ "Review: 'My Girl'". Variety. 1991. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 

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