Stars: Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Anna Chlumsky, Austin O'Brien. Written by Janet Kovalcik. Directed by Howard Zieff. Rated PG.

Who would have thought that the movie famous for killing off Macaulay Culkin would someday spawn a sequel? Would they bring back his ghost to hand out advice to the film's heroine, as they did Obi Wan Kenobi in the "Star Wars" trilogy? Would they make the new film a retread of the first because audiences expect more of the same from their sequels. The answers to these questions are "not me", "thank goodness, no", and "not quite". "My Girl 2", which reunites the major players from the original film minus Mack, is a sweet-spirited coming-of-age drama that resists the overwhelming urge to be overly sentimental throughout most of its running length.

Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) is now in her early teens and just beginning to experience an attraction to members of the opposite sex. Her father Harry (Dan Aykroyd) and her step-mom Shelley (Jamie Lee Curtis) are very much in tune to the growing pains that she is facing and aren't hesitant to dole out advice where matters of the heart are concerned. But more than boys, right now, Vada is keen on finding out information about the mother she never knew, the mother who died giving birth to her. She needs the information both for a school report and to satisfy the curiosity that has haunted her for years.

After procuring begrudging permission from her father, Vada travels to Los Angeles by airplane to spend a week with her uncle. All she knows for sure about her mother is the name of the high school she went to, that she was a stage actress, and that she had lived in L.A. Acquiring the services of her uncle's girlfriend's son Nick (Austin O'Brien of "The Last Action Hero") as a guide, Vada begins an investigation based on her scant information. As a sideline, we immediately recognize that these two young people will soon be in the throes of puppy love with each other.

The trail leads to several of her late mother's friends and acquaintances but none of these are of much more help than being able to steer Vada to the next person she should contact. Neither are any of them are aware of the significance of the date scrawled on a paper bag found among her mother's possessions. Taking the campaign one step further, Nick and Vada persuade a local police officer to supply them with the address of the owner of a truck in which Vada's mother had been a frequent passenger. This leads to a rather startlingly discovery and the end of Vada's search.

Anna Chlumsky is as appealing as ever as the perceptive Vada. Austin O'Brien, as her guide and would-be boyfriend, comes off as wooden and unnatural. Accordingly, the movie falters whenever he is asked to carry a scene. The film avoids unnecessary sentimentality for so long that it's a shame that the last segment of the film is dragged down by the weight of its emotions. If not for these two considerations, "My Girl 2" would have earned an unconditional recommendation. The movie is appropriate for audiences for all ages but will hold special appeal to young teens because of the innocent romance.

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