Light, summer fun in ‘Judy Moody’

By Sister Helena Burns, FSP | Contributor
Sunday, June 19, 2011

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer,” based on the “Judy Moody” books, is a light and frolicking way to spend a not-bummer summer afternoon in an air-conditioned cinema. Boys as well as girls will enjoy the fun because Judy (Jordana Beatty) is a tomboy, and her little brother, “Stink,” (Parris Mosteller) has a leading role.

In the movie, tween Judy is determined not to have a boring bummer summer as usual, but two of her best friends are going away for the time off, where they are guaranteed to have good times: one goes to circus camp and the other to Borneo. So Judy decides to have a contest with them and her friend Frank (Preston Bailey) as to who can get the most “thrill” points by doing daring and thrilling things during the summer.

However, Judy finds herself not winning, mainly because Frank, a bit of a scaredy-cat, keeps messing things up. Things come to a head when Judy gets angry with Frank and he tells her that her “points” are taking the fun out of everything. And during the summer, Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) — the kooky, artsy, never-grew-up aunt that every kid should have — comes to care for Judy and Stink.

The mood of “Judy” is manic and hyperactive, but at a realistic pitch when it comes to this age group. Everything is a secret, a mystery, a hunt or a club. Judy’s imagination runs wild at all moments and her fantasies become animated vignettes.

Every scene is bursting with color, motion, little touches (like a burping Venus flytrap), and special effects. The script feels like someone who grew up in the 1970s writing in lots of older pop culture references and expressions, so it isn’t quite up-to-the-moment, but somehow it works.

The adults are kind, fun, loving and parental, but parents everywhere will cringe at the constant messes and destruction of property.

What will kids learn? Judy was so honest about not gaining her thrill points. She never tried to cheat or embellish, and always gave her more successful friends their due. Kids can also learn that fun can be in little things: a mood ring, arts and crafts (OK, Aunt Opal was a little excessive in this department), a toad peeing (oh, and there are lots of poop jokes, too).

Judy is one ambitious and enterprising gal, but she also learns never to give up, and that games can be taken too far. She also learns that friendship comes first.