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Movie review: Judy Moody


Jordana Beatty (r.) and Heather Graham as Judy Moody and Aunt Opal in a scene from the movie.

‘Judy Moody Not So Bummer Summer’ May be ‘Snoresville’ Event For Fans

By Maggie Scott

Even though it’s not officially summer until next week, most of us would agree that up to this point it’s been one sizzling, seismic cicada summer. For most, would qualify it as the start—particularly if we have flooding of “biblical proportion”—of a bummer summer.  Usually, we would look to the great “popcorn” movies to take our minds off summer’s discomforts.

But, there is one movie just released, ironically called, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, that, regrettably, is about as annoying as the cicadas, and is not recommended as a remedy for the summer time blues.

Adapted from the popular Judy Moody series of books by writers Kathy Waugh and Megan McDonald, the story of the messy-headed kid, in the kindest terms, strains to be fun. I could only think a few minutes into the chaotically cute proceedings, “Where’s Lindsay Lohan when you need her?”

Director John Schultz pummels kids and adults alike with the manic perkiness of Waugh and McDonald’s conception of Judy (Jordana Beatty), who is obnoxiously nice, with not a hint of the pre-pubescent rebel (there’s a wonderful lack of electronic gadgets glued to Judy’s ear or fingers).

Her active imagination pops up on screen in animation, her verbal virtuosity doesn’t get any more disrespectful than “holy macaroni” and she’s nice to her little brother (Parris Mosteller), who actually goes by the nickname of “Stink.”

For Judy, a fate worse than death is the prospect of a “snoresville summer;” and it looks like she’s headed there when her friends are off for exciting adventures (good for plenty of “thrilladelic” points the kids are competing for) in Borneo and at a circus camp.

Not only don’t her parents have the means to send Judy somewhere cool like that, they’re leaving her and Stink while they help out Mom’s folks.  If they’re off to their other grandma’s, there’s nothing to do but “pick scabs.”  And, Stink might have to put his plans to capture Big Foot on hold.

Enter their free-spirited Aunt Opal (Heather Graham), a hippie-style flower child and “guerilla” artist, who’s eaten cockroaches in Bali and ridden ostriches in Kenya and who is completely in tune with Judy’s quest to check off the “dares” on her elaborate chart.

With her with-it sitter providing relaxed, sympatico supervision, Judy concentrates on racking up thrill points; with an intensity that eventually forces Stink to call her a “big, wet, fun-sponge!” Vomit, poop, zombie movies, an accident with glue and an encounter with Big Foot true believers at a pet store’s secret “cave” fill out Judy’s “not bummer summer.”

It’s hard to say whether these two staples of the genre could have saved the Not Bummer Summer, but I sat glumly through the screening thinking, “Thank goodness, at least it’s not in 3-D, and Judy and Stink aren’t giving a villain a going-over.”

Fans of Judy Moody will be bummed and their parents will be snoring.  A Smokewood Entertainment production; Relativity release, rated PG.

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