A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this big-screen adaptation of Megan McDonald's popular kids' books follows elementary schooler Judy Moody as she experiences a summer of fun that's fine for younger audiences, especially those familiar with the stories. The humor does veer toward the potty variety -- expect a couple of scatological words like "crap" and the sight of Judy covered in blue vomit and a toad peeing on her friend -- but otherwise there's not much that parents are likely to find objectionable. And Judy learns a valuable lesson: that having a meaningful summer isn't about ticking off "thrilling" activities on a chart but rather enjoying your family and each day's adventures.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Based on Megan McDonald's book series, this adaptation follows young Judy Moody (Jordana Beatty) as she deals with a summer break away from two of her best friends, who are off to exciting vacations in Borneo and circus camp. Judy challenges her three pals to a contest that keeps track of their summer adventures on a chart. Whoever gets to 100 "thrill points" first wins ... and has officially had a "NOT Bummer Summer." While her friends swim with sharks and ride elephants, Judy stays home with her younger brother Stink (Parris Mosteller) and her artistic Aunt Opal (Heather Graham), who's watching them for the summer. As Judy and her nerdy friend Frank (Preston Bailey) attempt to have a "thrilladelic" vacation, she discovers that sometimes fun is about the unexpected, not the forced.
Is it any good?
The Judy Moody books are always a delight to share with early readers, but the movie doesn't capture the joy of Judy. Rather than coming across as a young spitfire with a fantastic imagination, Judy seems more jealous and whiny. And even though Beatty is a charming young actress, the spark that makes Judy an early-elementary favorite doesn't translate to the big screen. There's just not much to the plot (who doesn't want to have a good summer?), and the lack of dramatic tension (the only thing getting in Judy's way is herself) makes this less exciting than you'd expect.
Graham looks like she's having fun as she plays the stereotypical free-spirited relative who adds some spontaneity to the Moody household, but it's not enough. Jaleel White (who once played TV's ever-popular Steve Urkel) has a supporting role as Judy's teacher, who tasks his class with a riddle and a mission to find him over the summer. He's always good for a laugh or two, but the subplot doesn't hold much interest. This movie may not be a bummer for first graders, but anyone much older may be more bored than amused.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Judy's summer goal and her jealousy of her best friends. Kids: Is it hard when it seems like your friends are going to have a more exciting vacation than you? What does Judy's story teach you about that?
How does this movie compare to other kids' book adaptations? Which are your favorites?
Even though Stink gets on Judy's nerves, they seem to have a better relationship than other movie siblings. How believable are their interactions?
Do you consider Aunt Opal to be a good role model for the kids? Do you have any relatives like her?
- In theaters: June 10, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: October 11, 2011
- Cast: Heather Graham, Jaleel White, Jordana Beatty
- Director: John Schultz
- Studio: Relativity Media
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild rude humor and language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.