Child psychologists are reportedly disturbed by the fact that Macaulay Culkin ("Home Alone") plays a boy who dies in "My Girl," a new film that opens here today.
Their objections may be legitimate, but you might wonder if they have actually seen the film.
It is a weeper. It is sad, but it is also very funny, very touching, very real. Yes, it's about death. Yes, the principal character, an 11-year-old girl, lives in a funeral home (her father is the owner), but the subject matter is handled with great tact.
And where were all these people when the "Friday the 13th," "Elm Street" and "Halloween" movies were released?
Talk about damage. One of those does 10 times more damage than 10 movies like "My Girl," a film that handles death with care.
"My Girl" is a cautionary tale. It tells you, for one thing, to leave a bees' nest alone. It also tells us that those who die live on with those who remember and loved them.
That's really what "My Girl" is about, continuity, and despite the death of the boy, the film has its moments of mirth. In its own way, it is reassuring.
Anna Chlumsky is the star of the film, one that was probably made before Culkin did "Home Alone." Thomas (Culkin) is really a subsidiary figure. This is really the girl's story. The boy is almost incidental.
Dan Aykroyd plays the girl's father, a widower who has fallen in love with the makeup artist who has come to work for him. She is played with great charm by Jamie Lee Curtis, who seems to grow prettier by the film. She is also quite good at this kind of comedy, this kind of pathos. She is a decided asset to the film. So is Aykroyd, who may find a second career as a character player.
Richard Masur is the undertaker's brother, Griffin Dunne is the teacher on whom Vada (Chlumsky) has a crush, and Ann Nelson is the dotty grandmother who, when she does become verbal, goes into a funeral parlor, stands in front of a corpse, looks at the mourners and sings, "One More for the Road."
"My Girl" is about life, death and adjustment. The script is straightforward and intelligent. Howard Zieff did the direction.
The agency that arranged a preview of the film screened it at 8:30 p.m., assuming that parents wouldn't be taking very small children to see the movie at that hour. That didn't stop them. They came, with the kids, and they cried more than their children did.
"My Girl" is another in a series of current films in which comedy is deftly blended with pathos. "Paradise" and "Man in the Moon" are two more current features in that genre.
*** An 11-year old girl, daughter of an undertaker, must deal with the death of her companion, a boy.
CAST: Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Macaulay Culkin, Anna Chlumsky, Richard Masur, Griffin Dunne
DIRECTOR: Howard Zieff
RATING: PG (language)
RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes