How to Eat Fried Worms
By Jane Boursaw,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
A gross-out movie with a sweet story.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Billy thinks about running away, then decides to face the worm challenge. Kids try to intimidate others, and everyone's afraid of Joe, the school bully. His group of insecure thugs do whatever he says. Name-calling, sibling rivalry, and mocking authority figures are integral to the plot.
Violence & Scariness
This movie is refreshingly free of slapstick violence; most is of the verbal variety. Students fear Joe's "death ring," which supposedly kills its victims when they reach 8th grade.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Woody refers to his private parts as "dillydink". Other references to body parts ("sphincter") and potty humor. Mild romantic scenes between characters.
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Lots of snot and worm jokes. The boys snicker over crude potty jokes, pet names for male anatomy, other mild profanities.
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Products & Purchases
This movie has an old-fashioned family feel to it, so there are few references to products.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Dad drinks wine after a hard day at work.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie is gross, which is probably why it will appeal to fourth-graders everywhere. There's also some crude potty humor and mild profanity, as well as name-calling and bullying. But the message is straightforward and simple: It's okay to stand up for yourself, and sometimes, you have to eat worms (or in grown-up terms, do something you don't want to do) in order to gain the courage needed to get by in this crazy world.
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Where to Watch
Based on 7 parent reviews
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Serious Concerns, Somewhat Redeems Itself
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What's the Story?
Based on Thomas Rockwell's popular 1973 book, this movie revolves around 11-year-old Billy (Luke Benward), who ticks off the school bully, Joe (Adam Hicks) on his first day at a new school. When Billy opens his thermos to reveal a mess o' worms, Joe asks him if he eats worms a lot. "Yeah, I eat 'em all the time," says Billy. "Ya wanna try one?" Billy tosses one of the slimy creatures to the bully, but it lands smack on his face. Thus begins a challenge in which Billy must eat ten worms in a day, without throwing up. Whoever loses has to put worms down their pants and walk through school in front of everyone. The recipes get creative, with various preparation methods and names like Barfmallow and Radioactive Slime Delight. Meanwhile, Billy's dad (Thomas Cavanagh) struggles with his new job; his mom (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) is busy looking after his younger brother (Ty Panitz); and adorably gawky Erika (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) understands Billy because she towers above her classmates.
Is It Any Good?
Despite the gross premise, this movie can teach kids a lot about how to deal with bullies and stand up for yourself. Also, the sweetness of the story and the friendships Billy develops are at the heart of this movie. And the kids seem like "real" kids! Not the Hollywood version we usually get in movies.
As with other books-to-movies produced by Walden Media –- Hoot, Holes, and The Chronicles of Narnia, to name a few –- this movie is well made, even if it strays a bit from the book's details.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the best way to fit into a new situation. What's the best way to make friends? How can you help new kids feel welcome? Was Billy right to mouth off at the school bully on his first day at school? Should he have taken the challenge to eat the worms? How could he have handled it differently? What could his parents have done to help him out? What was the real reason for Joe's bullying?
- In theaters: August 25, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: December 5, 2006
- Cast: Adam Hicks, Hallie Eisenberg, Luke Benward
- Director: Bob Dolman
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild bullying and some crude humor
- Last updated: February 21, 2023
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