Tag Archives: Heather Graham

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

26 Jun

Title: Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
Year: 
2011
Director: 
John Schultz
Writers: Kathy Waugh and Megan McDonald, based on the book series by Ms. McDonald
Starring: 
Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Parris Mosteller, Preston Bailey, Jaleel White
MPAA Rating: 
PG, some mild rude humor and language
Runtime: 
91 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
3.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 
15%

 

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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Boogie Woogie

14 Jul

Title: Boogie Woogie
Year: 2010
Director: Duncan Ward
Writer: Danny Moynihan
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Gillian Anderson, Stellan Skarsgard, Heather Graham, Christopher Lee, Joanna Lumley, Alan Cumming, Danny Huston, Gemma Atkinson
MPAA Rating:
Runtime: 94 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 5.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 30%

I’m unsure about how I feel about Boogie Woogie, I mean, from time to time I did find myself positively smiling and giggling at stuff this satire threw at me, but more often than that I found myself not really enjoying the process, finding this film to be ‘warm’ and in that temperature scale I just created to illustrate a point any satire has to be at ‘hot’ to be successful, this one had moments when it started getting hot, but just when it seemed to be able to get there a cool bucket of water chilled it down, and that process was tough to watch.

The film delves into the art scene of London, and while interesting at times and certainly with a good pedigree on the subject since it had some knowledgable people to take input from ,I think it could have submerged itself further on the subject at hand, the one bright spot in this film, and the reason why my grade for it will be better than it should really be, is the cast, which is seriously awesome, just take a look at all the names above, but still, the cast is given a weak script, the camerawork is extremely subpar and it generally doesn’t feel like the sort of movie it was clearly intended to be.

Now, even though I give praise to the actors in the cast, there are two things to mention, the direction the cast was given was clearly not great, and secondly and more importantly, even though they’re all good actors, they’re not that good as to make an Altman-esque film, which is the vibe this film shamelessly tried to pull off with a huge ensemble and a full-on exploration of a specific world or genre. Not to mention that Duncan Ward, the film’s director, is a first-time feature film director, and he’s certainly no Robert Altman, and when he’s five feature-length films into his career I doubt he’ll have a MASH like Altman did. But then again pretty much nobody can do what Altman did, so let’s not bully him, let’s just say he should’ve known better.

I won’t really go ahead and describe the whole plot, I saw the film more than two months ago and I probably forgot most of it anyway, but I’ll say that Amanda Seyfried is actually pretty good in it, even though I say that in pretty much anything she’s in, and Gillian Anderson is an actress I’ll watch in anything, and think she has become quite the charming actress post-X-Files. But again, for the pleasure I got from the castmembers I’ll give this film a rather okay grade, but unfortunately this film, while it does have its moments of nasty fun amidst it’s completely off’-target over -the-top demeanor, is one I’ll forget all about in a couple of months, just like I forgot the majority of its plot two months after watching it.

Grade: B-