Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

26 Jun

Title: Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
John Schultz
Writers: Kathy Waugh and Megan McDonald, based on the book series by Ms. McDonald
Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Parris Mosteller, Preston Bailey, Jaleel White
MPAA Rating: 
PG, some mild rude humor and language
91 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
Rotten Tomatoes: 


Fair warning: If you are over 8 years of age, you will most likely end up detesting the living hell out of Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, a film created with the sole purpose of entertaining the very young, with no sort of respect paid to the grown-ups who will pay to get the kids in the theaters and will then have to endure the hour and a half of this garbage. Okay, so that may have been rather harsh, but seriously, I hated this movie, and that’s because I always hate kids films that don’t even try to appeal to adults even in the slightest ways, even a film like last year’s Marmaduke, which was still quite bad, or Ramona and Beezus, which was only mildly better but still way below par, at least tried to expand it’s reach outside of pre-adolescent girls with short attention spans that have parents that will gladly pay money for them to keep quiet and still in an air-conditioned theater in the middle of summer.

For real, if your age needs two digits to be spelled out in numbers, then this is a movie that certainly wasn’t made for you and that you’ll most likely hate. This is the perfect example of a film that just needed to be sent straight to video, where parents will gladly buy it for their kids to watch in the living room while they can avoid it and have some downtime on their own. You have Judy Moody here, the heroine of Megan McDonald’s best-selling series of books now making the transition to the big screen in this deplorable adaptation, and in this case Judy’s parents are taking a summer trip alone, leaving both Judy and her brother Stink to the care of Aunt Opal, who they really don’t like.

What happens next is that Aunt Opal, who’s played by Heather Graham, turns out isn’t as bad as they initially thought, and she makes this list of activities that she has planned out so that the kids can keep busy during summer, and the film obviously evolves from there to show all of these activities and make use of silly music and sillier jokes. And seriously that’s it, the material provided by the screenplay, adapted by Kathy Waugh with the help of Ms. McDonald, is truly horrendous, and seems only interested in getting their characters to move around and keep busy while making gags about vomit and other bodily parts that are seriously worn out in movies nowadays. And that’s really how it feels, like this just shallow compilation of really frenetic moments thrown together tied up by no visible narrative string, and, again, very little kids that themselves are just always moving around and laughing at silly noises may indeed find this film quite pleasurable, but for the adults accompanying them it’ll be a seriously crappy ninety minutes.

If it feels like I’m knocking this one too hard then you’ve clearly not seen the film, I know it’s made for kids so thus they are the ones that should be entertained, but the quality of kids movies nowadays has given us kid-oriented films that adults can love as well, or at least be entertained by them, or at the very least keep busy with and follow the plot, while in Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer every single person that’s past the third grade will undoubtedly start thinking about anything but the movie while they see it, and that’s just a sure sign of failure for this film.

I will say one thing for it, and this is the only reason why I’m not giving this one a lower failing grade, and that’s that Jordana Beatty, the young newcomer chosen to play the leading role, is actually pretty damn decent in this film, or at the very least you can tell she was just totally game for anything the script threw at her, which makes it even more of a pity that the material she had to work with was so atrocious, and her character was so poorly fleshed out that the little girl more often than not comes off as just this really dislikable little brat who can’t stop whining, even when she’s supposed to be the main character that we all really like. I just hope little Jordana Beatty has better luck with her future projects, because she certainly gave it her all here, even if it was to no avail.

About Ms. Graham, I thought the role she gets was weird, they tried to make her this sort of quirky girl who wouldn’t seem out of place in an okay-but-not-great little indie romantic comedy, and then they just throw her into this kiddie film. She, much like her younger co-star, is also totally game just being this sort of cool aunt that’s totally fine with doing art projects in the middle of the living room and just loving life and bouncing around. But all that bouncing around and shouting just doesn’t work if it’s not sustained by anything with a bit more depth, just take a look at both Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies, they haven’t been great, but they’ve been decent enough because in the midst of all the kiddie-oriented mindless fun they got their main character to grow up a bit and learn things about life, while this film never even approaches that territory. You can definitely go ahead and skip this one.

Grade: D+


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