Monday, June 13, 2011

Judy Moody Not Bummer Summer Movie Review


Image provided by Relativity Media

MBE partnered with the Judy Moody Movie, Post contains affiliate links

A Film Delivering Antics for Kids, Values for Moms and Dads


My 13 year-old girls and I had the thrill of meeting and talking with Judy Moody kids books author Megan McDonald and the kid stars of the movie Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer last month during an exclusive interview at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  As a matter of fact, you may enjoy reading about this Judy Moody Movie behind the scenes experience.

My daughters (standing) with author Megan McDonald and the kid stars of the film...

Just over a week ago, prior to the national release on June 10 of the feature film, we were also invited to an advance screening.  This was followed by a Judy Moody movie special promotional event with talent present at The Grove in Los Angeles.

Movie Review

What do a Magic 8 Ball, Venus Flytrap, and mood ring have in common?  All three are family-friendly, old-fashioned amusements children have loved for generations, myself and my own family included.

Certainly -- if you or your kids have already read the best-selling Judy Moody series by author Megan McDonald that has sold 14 million copies translated into 23 languages -- you'll immediately recognize these eclectic entertainment devices from different books in that collection, too.

Jaws, the Venus Flytrap's page in the new book Judy Moody Goes to Hollywood...

Even youngsters who haven't read any of the original Judy Moody books probably will want to devour them all.  That is, after they see how the new movie Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer -- based on the uber popular series and brought to the big screen for the first time -- weaves this trio of fun props into the dialogue and non-stop antics.  All while telling a perfectly hilarious and funny "what I did last summer vacation" story through a series of silly mishaps as experienced through the eyes of third grader Judy Moody.   

A bit of trivia:  newcomer actress Jordana Beatty, who plays the title role hails from Australia in real-life, was a 12 year-old middle school student when the feature film was shot last year.

Lt to Rt: Camryn Magness, Jordana Beatty, Megan McDonald
Signing autographs for fans at the pre-release event at The Grove, Los Angeles

This movie from Relativity Media also features the singing of Camryn Magness, daughter of husband-wife producer team Gary Magness and Sarah Siegel-Magness.  According to the picture's production notes, the 11 year-old performer is due to release her debut single and first album in a few months. 

The film is set in the fictional town of Frog Neck Lake, Virginia, of all places.  Surprisingly, though, the entire movie was actually shot in Southern California, in South Pasadena, Magic Mountain in Valencia, San Pedro, and the beaches of Oxnard, among other locations in the region.  Nevertheless, Judy Moody's filmmakers pulled off the authentic feel of the story's scripted setting with great finesse considering the small budget of the less than $20 million they had to work with. 

Another piece of trivia worth sharing.  This is truly a family-friendly, home-grown in California project.  That's because according to the movie's director, John Schultz, all elements of the production process -- down to the Los Angeles-based 80-piece orchestra that was hired to record the score's music -- were kept local intentionally.   This made it possible for Schultz, a family man, to remain physically close to his family, including his wife and new baby, during the shooting.  It also allowed the majority of others who worked on this film to remain close to home.

With all these positive family attributes, I wouldn't be a good mother if I didn't at least mention to parents that this movie is rated PG because it includes some mild rude language and humor.  So, in case you were wondering, there is a barfing scene on a roller coaster, a poop picnic sequence, and Judy's pesky little brother (played by Parris Mosteller), collecting dodo for evidence as he hunts for the mythical Big Foot during the film.

There's also a smattering of four letter words used here and there, such as poop, scat, dung, and dodo, with the worst word of all being c-r-a-p.  I can't say more than that though because I wouldn't want to spoil all the fun of the film for you before you see it. 

Though some may find this language and action offensive, a lot of us have been (or will soon be going through) that phase when our kids get the giggles from talking about bodily functions incessantly.  Suffice it to say, I personally don't believe this is a big deal and I think most kids (especially the 7-10 year-old set) will really relate to the array of light potty-related shenanigans.

On a more serious note, parents will likely be pleased with the many old-fashioned values this movie espouses in such an entertaining format.  Here you have Judy, a kid who's friends are leaving town to go to lavish and expensive places like Circus Camp and Bora Bora for their summer vacations.  Judy is disappointed at first, but then her artsy, free-spirited Bohemian Aunt Opal, played by actress Heather Graham, arrives on the scene.

Judy Moody Theme Cupcakes at the Los Angeles launch event...

Together with this long-lost relative that she hasn't seen since she was a baby, little brother Stink, and the other unfortunate friend who got stuck staying home, Judy grabs the rhinoceros by the horns -- so to speak -- to cobble together her own really fun summer vacation at home by creating a game that rewards with thrill points.

Reminds me of my own old-fashioned small town upbringing of the 1960s.  Back then, the norm was that kids didn't go away to pricey sleep away summer camps or luxury trips abroad with their parents.  Instead, not unlike Judy Moody, we were left to our own devices to create our own fun relying primarily on simple materials that we'd find in the garage or backyard.

Official Judy Moody Movie Poster

From the wacky opening of this movie, to the confetti-laden last day of school scene, to the search for Big Foot, to the Old King Kold Ice Cream truck's daily appearances in the neighborhood, there's something everyone -- young and old -- can relate to.  Add to that the comical performances of this relatively unknown cast of mostly young actors, the carefully-orchestrated colorful wardrobes and sets, and all the hilarious scenes you'll see throughout this movie.  

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer movie and book are definitely inspiring ways to jump start a creative staycation adventure, to kick off an unforgettable, thrill-a-delic summer for your kids like none other.

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer has spawned not one but five different books from Candlewick Press related to the film that are now available (with a sixth to be released in July).  Watch future posts on this blog reviewing these great new titles soon!

New Judy Moody Books from Candlewick Press based on the movie...

When you think of an old-fashioned summer for kids, what kinds of fun ideas does it evoke? What did you do to entertain yourself when you were a child? How about your kids:  What will they be doing this summer?  Please share. 

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