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Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

Movies | This film is a garish, manic, incoherent waste of celluloid

Issue: "2011 Books of the Year," July 2, 2011

Pre-teen Judy Moody (Jordana Beatty) has it rough. Her best friends are traveling to exotic places like Borneo and circus camp for the summer, and she has to stay at home in Virginia with her eccentric aunt and her younger brother, nicknamed "Stink," while her parents tend to her ailing grandfather in California. To keep herself from suffering endless boredom, she plays a game with her vacationing friends, in which each participant earns thrill points for completing tasks like crossing a river on a tightrope, watching scary movies, or random, on-the-spot activities like catching Big Foot.

As the first summer film for the pre-teen ADD set, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (rated PG) may depart before the Fourth of July. It's a garish, manic, incoherent waste of celluloid.

A frenetic, haphazard rhythm dominates this film. The rules and activities for Judy's game are arbitrary and nonsensical, even from a young adolescent's perspective. The film also has an annoying habit of visually spelling out random, spoken words in loud, colorful, block letters.

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Perhaps the most absurd element of the film is the idea that Judy's parents, who appear to be otherwise quite reasonable and responsible, would choose to leave their children in the care of house-trashing, car-wrecking woman-child Aunt Opal (Heather Graham), the "cool aunt." Open up your local white pages to any page, pick the first name you see, and you would likely feel more comfortable with that person than Opal.

If the film's psychedelic color palette and tone were not bad enough, the writers seem to take perverse pleasure in subjecting the viewer to vomit-inducing club names, such as the "Toad Pee Club" (it's "toadally" cool) and the "I Ate Something Gross Club." None of them, however, could possibly match the "I Saw the Judy Moody Movie Club."

Michael Leaser
Michael Leaser

Michael is editor of FilmGrace and an associate of The Clapham Group.

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