Film: My Girl

My Girl is a 1991 coming-of-age drama film directed by Howard Zieff and starring Anna Chlumsky, Macaulay Culkin, Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis. Set in the summer of 1971, the film revolves around Vada Sultenfuss (Chlumsky), an 11-year-old girl living with her father (Aykroyd). Vada is obsessed with death. Her mother is dead, and her dad owns a funeral parlor. Her best friend, Thomas J. Sennett (Culkin) has various allergies and her father falls in love with makeup expert Shelly DeVoto (Curtis) whom he hires for the parlor. Vada tries everything she can to split them up while sticking around with Thomas J. for some various adventures...

The film's success spawned a sequel in 1994, with Chlumsky, Aykroyd and Curtis reprising their roles and Austin O'Brien (Last Action Hero) rounding out the cast.

Tropes associated with these movies:

  • Almost Kiss: Between Harry and Shelly, before Vada intervenes.
  • Bee Afraid: Fatally, for Thomas J.
  • Blind Without 'Em: "He can't see without his glasses".
  • Blood Brothers: Vada and Thomas J. do this.
  • Captain Obvious: While watching Shelly and her ex-husband arguing, Vada's uncle remarks, "These two people do not have a good relationship."
  • Comically Missing the Point: Thomas J. reminds Vada that she can't marry her teacher because it's against the law: "he'll give you all A's!"
  • Creepy Basement: Considering the house is a funeral parlor and the basement is used to embalm the corpses, Vada gets suitably scared when she's accidentally locked down there.
  • Death by Childbirth: Vada's mother.
  • Dropped Glasses: Happens when Thomas J. dies from a bee swarm.
  • First Kiss: Notable for winning the first ever "Best Kiss" award at the 1992 MTV Movie Awards. Heck, in Latin American countries the movie is known as "Mi Primer Beso" ("My First Kiss")
  • Fourth Date Marriage: downplayed, but the whole film—including Harry and Shelly first meeting, first going on a date, and eventually getting engaged—takes place over the course of one summer.
  • Freak Out: Vada goes through a couple of these; when she's accidentally locked in the basement, when she gets her first period, and at Thomas J.'s funeral.
  • Freudian Excuse: Missing Mom + guilt for the Death by Childbirth + growing up in a funeral home and being around dead people all the time = the eccentric Vada Sultenfuss
  • Gilligan Cut: In the sequel, "No, I'm sorry, Vada is not going to Los Angeles. Now I have made my decision, and that is final." (Cut to the airport.)
  • Girliness Upgrade: At the end of the movie, Vada lets her hair down and wears a nice dress.
  • Granola Girl: The creative writing class has granola girls AND guys. Then again, it is set in 1972.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Vada feels this way in regards to her father developing a relationship with Shelly. She gets over it with time.
  • Heroic BSOD: Poor Vada takes Thomas J's death very badly.
  • Hot for Teacher: Vada has a huge crush on her schoolteacher - to the point where, in order to pay to enroll in a summer writing course that he teaches, she steals the money from Shelly.
  • Hypochondria: Vada. The junior novel adaptation opens with her listing off all the things she thinks are wrong with her - namely, that she was born jaundiced, caught hemorrhoids in a public restroom, and has a small chicken bone stuck in her throat from a Fourth of July barbecue years before.
  • Ill Boy: Thomas J. This includes an allergy to bee stings, something nobody was aware of until it's too late.
  • Infant Immortality: Horribly averted. Poor Thomas J...
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Vada is mostly seen with a ponytail for the first half of the film. She lets it down after some drama has passed.
  • Lighter and Softer: The sequel tones down the drama from the first movie and becomes more of a heartwarming comedy.
  • Madness Mantra: Vada puts her hands over her ears and sings "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" when she's emotionally breaking.
  • Missing Mom: Vada's mother died a few days after Vada was born.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Vada experiences her first period, and panics when it happens.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Harry doesn't take Vada's eccentric behavior or apparent hypochondria seriously.
  • Parents as People: The movie occasionally shifts its focus from Vada to Harry.
  • Parent with New Paramour
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Inverted; Vada is annoyed when kids tease her about Thomas J. being her boyfriend.
  • Sublime Rhyme: Defied by Vada's teacher. He tells her that a poem is more about words rhyming, it's about expressing ones self.
  • The Runaway: Vada runs away after she finds out Harry and Shelly are getting married, but it lasts less than a day and no one notices. She does it again when she can't cope with Thomas J.'s death and her guardians definitely notice.
  • The Talk: Vada gets one from Shelly after her period. Her reaction: "My mom and dad did THAT?...I think it should be outlawed!"
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Vada and Shelly
  • Tomboyish Ponytail: Vada wears one for most of the film.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Oh God, where to start!? Her life is already a little rough, but it got worse her best friend, Thomas J, dies in a bee attack. She was the one who angered the bees in the first place, and he only went back to try and find her mood ring that she lost, her father is the coroner, the funeral is held at her house, and to top it all off, on the day of said funeral, she discovers the teacher that she had a crush on is getting married. However, she gets better in the end.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Vada's mood ring becomes one.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Thomas J. and Vada. Type 2
  • Who Names Their Kid Vada Sultenfuss?: Shelly's ex-husband's response when introduced to Vada.
    "Vada Sultenfuss? Tough break."