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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » My Girl (Blu-ray)
My Girl (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures // PG-13 // March 17, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted March 8, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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THE FILM:

Ah, My Girl. A film I remember really liking when I was 11. Now that I am pushing 30, some of its charms have worn off, though it remains a decent coming-of-age story. It is also kind of depressing thanks to its pervasive kids-and-death thematic elements. Still, Howard Zieff's film is not a bad property for family movie night, though your kids may not ever play outside again. Dan Aykroyd plays against type as an emotionally distant single dad, and Jamie Lee Curtis gives a good performance as a beautician-cum-matriarchal figure for Anna Chlumsky's emotional tomboy. The melodrama is a bit overwrought, but the young actress and co-star Macaulay Culkin make a great team. My Girl is not as precious as it once was, but that's no reason to discount it entirely.

Precocious to a fault, Vada Sultenfuss (Chlumsky) spends her days roaming the funeral home where she lives with her emotionally distant single father, Harry (Aykroyd). This odd abode has given Vada a skewed view of human mortality, and she struggles with the idea that she killed her own mother during childbirth. Harry is not much of a dad, and either ignores Vada or becomes quickly impatient with her questions and energy. Cosmetologist Shelly DeVoto (Curtis) arrives and asks for a job preparing the deceased for their viewings, and quickly becomes a mother figure for Vada. During the summer, Vada grows close to Thomas J. Sennett (Culkin), a shy classmate with many health ailments. My Girl unspools through Vada's eyes, which catch Harry and Shelly's budding romance, Thomas' struggles with bullies and anxiety, and her grandmother's descent into Alzheimer's.

If you couldn't tell, My Girl has a lot of thematic speed bumps in its 102 minutes - for better or worse. Some of these make the film relatable and touching, others are grating. Vada has a crush on her fifth grade teacher, Jake Bixler (Griffin Dunne), and steals money from Shelly to enroll in Bixler's adult poetry writing class. That infatuation is cuter than the numerous scenes of hypochondriac Vada's trips to the doctor. The film plays these moments - along with the child's nightmares - in a heavy handed way that assumes the audience has not made the connection between Vada's worries and her funeral home and dead mother. The Pleasantville-esque town life is a bit too sterile, but there are glimpses of a more truthful and more unpleasant reality in Shelly's past and Harry's inability to relate to his daughter.

The kicker here is, of course, the loss of Vada's young friend, which is probably the least cloying moment in the film. My Girl handles this hurdle with dignity and maturity, and the aftermath sees Shelly chastise Harry for being so aloof. In a perfect world, kids wouldn't have to deal with the deaths of their friends and family. That is not reality. My Girl's climax and resolution may be more satisfying than the build-up, which buoys my overall assessment of the film. Chlumsky plays her part well, warts and all, and both Aykroyd and Curtis are good in their limited roles. A lighter touch might have improved the film somewhat, but My Girl is not without its charms.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

Sony gives My Girl a mostly good 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image that is "Mastered in 4k." Most important is the natural, filmic presentation here. There is an even layer of grain that looks great in motion, and Sony has wisely avoided copious noise reduction or edge enhancement. The 1970s-set film looks period appropriate, and there is some nice detail and texture in fabrics and landscapes. Skin tones run a bit hot and colors appear a tad dull throughout, though some of this is likely inherent in the source elements. This Blu-ray also has issues with black crush, something that many reviewers and DVD Talk forum posters have noticed on recent Sony titles. There are moments when blacks are way too strong and bask everything in their path in a purple-black haze. A shot of Aykroyd in a suit erases all details of the fabric, and the shadows of dimly lit rooms rob the image of detail. Fortunately, this is only an issue in a couple of scenes, but Sony should look at addressing this soon.

SOUND:

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is competent and suits the material. Dialogue is clear and free from hiss or distortion, and the rear speakers support some light ambient effects and directional dialogue. The poppy soundtrack sounds slightly anemic, but is balanced appropriately with dialogue and effects. Sony includes dubs and subtitle options in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish, among others.

EXTRAS:

Along with an UltraViolet HD Digital Copy, the Blu-ray includes an Audio Commentary from Writer Laurice Elehwany; behind-the-scenes footage in A Day on the Set (4:42/SD); an Original Behind-the-Scenes Featurette (6:01/SD); and the Theatrical Trailer (2:20/HD).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

It is a little cloying at times, but My Girl retains most of its charms. The film's kids-and-death themes can be heavy handed, but the ultimate virtues are strong and relatable. Anna Chlumsky is memorable in her first on-screen performance, and both Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis provide good supporting turns. Sony's new Blu-ray release is pleasing despite a few technical imperfections. Recommended.

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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