Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer is a sweet family movie that is entertaining enough for the little ones, but has enough charm and slapstick humor to keep you parents entertained while watching it with the kids. Based on the Judy Moody book series, by Megan McDonald (she also co-wrote the screenplay), the film isn’t nearly as bad as the national critics let on after its release over the summer. In fact, at home in the comfort of your own living room, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer makes for a pleasant family movie night the next time one of those rolls around in your house.
Young Jordana Beatty takes on the lead role of Judy Moody, and the girl has the right combination of spunk and charisma to carry the whole movie. In the film, it’s the summer after third grade and Judy has great plans for two months of thrills and excitement. She gathers her best friends to lay out her plans, but learns that two of them, Rocky (Garret Strong) and Jessica (Ashley Boettcher) will be gone for the entire season. Rocky is attending circus camp and Jessica will be out of the country with her mom. That leaves Judy to try and figure out an adventure for her and the last of their foursome, Frank (Preston Bailey). She’s not happy. Frank is probably the least exciting of the four and truth be told, it’s kind of obvious that Judy has a crush on Rocky.
Making matters worse, Judy’s parents have to leave town suddenly and her Aunt Opal (Heather Graham), a spacey “artist,” will be taking care her and her little brother, the ever popular Stink (Paris Mosteller). After this quick set up, the movie falls into an episodic pace, with Judy and Frank trying to come up with “thrill points,” i.e. exciting stunts, that will rival the things Rocky and Jessica are doing on their trips. Most of the thrill points backfire (the roller coaster one is particularly gross), leaving Judy to finally take Frank seriously when he talks about searching for Bigfoot. Judy, Frank, Stink and Aunt Opal spend the last half hour speeding around in search of the elusive Yeti.
While not on par with some other family movies available, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer is still an easy watch, especially if you have children under the age of 10. They’ll be entertained, for sure, and laugh each time Stink opens his mouth. The film was directed with a sure hand by John Schultz, who also helmed the likable Aliens in the Attic. Graham provides stability as the primary adult in the movie and all of the kid actors are quite good. But really, the only performance that matters is Beatty’s. As she has to live up to the imaginations of children who adore the Judy Moody books, she does a great job and really makes the movie fun to watch.
The DVD release comes with the following bonus features: Join The Toad-Pee Club, Flippin’ Out With The Cast, Camryn’s “WAIT AND SEE” Music Video, 10 Things You Need To Know About Judy Moody, Judy Moody’s Guide To Making A Movie, Deleted Scenes and the Theatrical Trailer.