Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (2011)

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Wilson, Magic Eight Ball, Tom Hanks, Judy Moody...do you understand now? She's completely insane.

Reviewing movies can be a lot like playing Russian Roulette with five bullets.  The cautious critic will approach something like Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer with a certain sense of wariness.  Any film that describes itself as "supermegatotallythrilladelic" (which has to be some brand of 90's nostalgia) needs to be handled with trepadation.

All said, JMatNBS shot a blank.  To be fair, the only audience that could be reasonably entertained by this with few reservations are probably not old enough to comment appropriately on the site here.  But due to a large depository of ill-feeling I've built up reviewing Sarah Palin documentaries and other direct-to-DVD nonsense I can't say that this film fails.

Yes, it suffers from much the same perils that films aimed at the Dora the Explorer set does.  It looks like a the set and costume designers consumed three years worth of skittles and vomited DayGlo over the participants and locales.  The energy is relentless, hurtling from plot point to stop-gap locale with such heedless velocity it seems designed more to tire children than to entertain them.

But there is the reasonable chance that Judy's (Jordana Beatty) adventures might keep them enthralled (if not horribly dizzy).  Her life unfolds over a long summer of seeking "Thrill Points" in a game devised by someone who's going to grow up to be quite the dominating Type-A personality.  The events involve things like riding elephants and surfing the waves, and I must admit they're quite the dangerous tasks for someone so young.

Yet, the film still finds time to photograph children swimming with sharks as well as vomiting on each other.  Such is the way of life, I suppose.

Part of the film's appeal is supposed to come from crazy Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) who is to provide a boundless source of bemusement.  That said, both Graham and the character come off as very little other than a hippie that grew up to burn her sisters food.  Sure she rides a bike while wearing a sheet and carrying two children with her in a blind attempt at catching the Sasquatch (a plot point now recounted so specifically I can hardly believe it exists).  But really she just wants to relax with the children with some yoga and yeti-based research and she can barely muster up the energy to make these things interesting.

What definitely works is Jordana Beatty's performance, the on-occasion really odd sense of humor and, to a point, that relentless energy.  Young Beatty shows no restraint whatsoever in creating a character who is functionally insane at an early age, outshining her adult counterparts and at least anchoring the film to some sense of fun.  The odd humor is appealing at times as well, recalling old monster movies and some referential winks that are actually kind of funny.  My favorite involved the bumper for an old zombie movie that reminds patrons to "...lock your homes and hide in your basement, and if you don't have a basement - build one."

Then there's that energy.  True it looks like vomit, but there's enough goodwill in the spirit of the production to counteract that.  Any film that's willing to summon a full circus just to send one child off has enough kindness in it to not be entirely unlikable.  there are the frequent animations that fill Judy's vision or provide her a victorious escape.  They're at least better than some Dreamworks productions and provide a nice, quiet break from Moody's insanity.

So there you have it.  Judy Moody, not entirely horrible for wee children.  Good luck to the rest of you.

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Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (2011)

Directed by John Schultz.
Screenplay by Megan McDonald and Kathy Waugh.
Based on Judy Moody by Megan McDonald.
Starring  Jordana Beatty, Parris Mosteller and Heather Graham.

Posted by Andrew

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