You know what normal kids love? Summer. You know who’s not a normal kid? Judy Moody. You might not be able to tell from the subtle title, but Judy often finds summer to be quite the let-down. Instead of doing the same old boring routine of spending time with her friends and family, Judy wants to have a summer truly worth bragging about in September.
Movies about summers full of exciting adventures are usually more interesting when the characters aren’t in third grade, but chances are that anyone over twelve won’t be seeing this unless dragged kicking and screaming by a young family member. If you’re the one forced to take your kids to this, I can only hope for your sake that they don’t remember quotes well.
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer follows the adventures and non-adventures of the titular character (played by Jordana Beatty) on her summer vacation. Since summer has always been, for whatever reason, Judy’s least favorite season, she compiles a list of “thrilladelic” (yes, really) activities to make it less lame. Upon completing an activity, she would receive ten “thrill points,” with up to ten bonus points for something “totally wild,” eventually receiving one hundred points by the end of the summer.
Clearly, achieving such lofty goals by herself would not be terribly fun, so she asks her friends to complete the list with her. Unfortunately, two of them are leaving for totally sweet summer adventures, so Judy is left with the totally boring Frank (Preston Bailey). To make things worse, Judy’s parents reveal that they’ll be spending the summer out of state, so Judy and her brother will be left with their Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) all summer. Aunt Opal turns out to be an eccentric traveling artist, and all for the idea of helping Judy accumulate thrill points. While her friends send pictures of their fantastic, exciting summers, Judy enlists the help of Frank and Aunt Opal to try to complete her list of exciting things.
The first thing that stands out about this movie is the endless repetition of Judy’s terrible catchphrases. She makes up certain words, but others are just completely out of place and just begging to confuse the vocabularies of the target audience. Her synonym for “awesome” is “rare.” As in, “Wow, that’s totally rare!” If rare candies were as prevalent as her use of the word implies, all of my Pokemon would be fully-leveled. The aforementioned “thrilladelic” is also a repeat offender, but not nearly as popular as “rare.”
I suppose this wouldn’t be so grating if Judy herself weren’t such an odious character. Beatty does well enough with the source material, but Judy is a terrible brat. Her last name isn’t just a convenient rhyme. She is bossy, prone to temper tantrums, and the perfect image of a child I would hate to spend time with. She treats her friends and family like crap and doesn’t offer a satisfying apology for her behavior. Also, she’s a ginger.
One of the better performances comes from Heather Graham, who is looking very nice for 41. Her character is like those kids at liberal art colleges who travel to foreign countries to help people and make art, except she never had to grow up and get a real job. She is the absolute worst person to leave your children with, neglecting to keep them safe or properly fed– which, of course, means that children love her. Her crazy-eyed stare is only topped by the chase scene toward the end of the movie, giving the audience two jiggly reasons not to completely hate the film.
The story itself is pretty lackluster, mostly consisting of a montage of failed outings with Judy whining about them in between. While the thrills themselves seem very tame to an adult (like watching a scary movie or putting your hands up on a roller coaster), I imagine they’re well within the idea of something “wild” for a kid, giving them good ideas for “crazy” things to do this summer. Of course, one of the messages in the movie is that doing fun things solely for the sake of competition sucks all the fun out of them, but this seems to be abandoned at the end and will probably be ignored by the younger audience.
With slow pacing, a poor story, unlikeable characters, and a slew of catchphrases, very little in Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer is worth the price of admission. Heather Graham is easily ogle-able in less dull movies, and while seeing Jaleel White pop up as Judy’s teacher made me happy that Urkel was still getting work, I can’t help but wonder if this was the best role he could get. This is definitely a movie to avoid if you can help it.
I hate Judy Moody. I hope she has all the bummer summers.
Max Roahrig: 45 – Terrible: Why did I let Jenika drag me to this movie? Clearly it’s not a movie made for 21-year-olds. While I had zero positive expectations going in, what I saw was passable as a kid’s movie. If you’re the parent of a four to eight year old child, they’ll probably dig this flick. But as a parent, you’ll want to drive knitting needles into your eyes. Treat your child to a better movie, like either of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid flicks, that this movie tries so hard to emulate. What made those Diary movies so charming and fun, is that it didn’t try to be charming and fun: it just was. Forced comedy and catch-phrases from the red headed demon child Judy Moody is only the first thing wrong with the movie. The movie just doesn’t know what story it wants to tell, or even how to tell the story. What should be a simple summer movie turns into a plot to capture Bigfoot. Yeah, I know. Like I said before, if you’re the parent of a six year old, and want to take them to a movie, Judy Moody isn’t the worst thing they could sit through. But save some money and check out Diary of a Wimpy Kid instead.