American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The original "My Girl" (1991) was about an 11-year-old girl whose dad is an undertaker. Midway through the movie, her best friend suddenly dies. In "My Girl 2," the heroine is about 13, and goes on a quest for information about the mother she never knew, who died two days after giving birth. The authors of this series must have been inspired by that gloomy little girl Huckleberry Finn met on his travels, who always wore black and wrote poems that used "alas!" a lot.
The girl is named Vada Sultenfuss, played again this time by Anna Chlumsky, who has a winning personality and an endearing screen presence. Her dad (Dan Aykroyd) has married the cosmetologist (Jamie Lee Curtis) from the family funeral home, and Vada is about to get a younger sibling.
Consumed by curiosity about her own origins, she decides to do a school research project about her late mother, and spends her lifetime's savings for a five-day trip to Los Angeles, where her mother grew up. Aykroyd is paranoid about allowing his barely pubescent daughter go alone to L.A. - and who wouldn't (although the movie is set in the balmy old days of 1972). But he has a brother there, who runs a luxury car repair shop, and he entrusts Vada to his care.
The brother (Richard Masur) lives with his girlfriend (Christine Ebersole) and her son (Austin O'Brien, from "Last Action Hero"), who is, of course, just about Vada's age. Together the two kids explore the city, seeking clues about a woman who died around 1960. Realists in the audience may question the wisdom of these two children visiting Hollywood Boulevard after dark, or journeying all over town on the bus, but hey, this is a movie, and, of course, the trail leads to all sorts of interesting people, including the late mom's old friends, theatrical associates, and even an early love (touchingly well-played by John David Souther).
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