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Monday, August 01, 2011  

M. Ovie Reviews: Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

M. Edium is a fan of several book series, but with one glaring, culture-redefining exception, most of them don't get made into movies. In most cases, this is entirely understandable.

Unfortunately, in this one case, they did it anyway.

M. Edium enjoys the books by Megan MacDonald that center around Stink, who is the younger brother of the protagonist of MacDonald's Judy Moody series. Apparently Judy Moody books are such a hit that the author launched a spinoff series. Or she was trying to score some boy readers. Either way, M. Edium really wanted to see Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer for Stink, and I thought, well, how bad could it be? I will now attempt to answer that question, although I will almost certainly fail.

Here's how bad it was: I was glad M. Edium likes to sit in the back row, because that way I could break my rule against texting in theaters and send Trash this exact message, three minutes in:


And my phone doesn't do all caps easily, either.

So here is a partial list of all the things I hate about this movie. It starts with the protagonist beginning her day in the morning, which is the laziest beginning possible for a movie. At least her hair looks like she just woke up, but after a while you realize that it's going to look like that through the whole movie. Judy is a ragamuffin who looks like what you might get if you took a few decades away from Joan Cusack, and then took away everything else you like about Joan Cusack, particularly her smoldering charisma. Judy's also a borderline-bippolar idiot whose mission for the movie is to maximize her fun over the summer using a lame points system of her own devising which, as someone points out to her waaaay too late in the movie, sucks the fun out of everything, especially for the viewer.

I soon found myself agreeing with M. Edium that Stink is the real star here. Sure, the young actor playing him is locked in an epic struggle with a crippling speech impediment, but Stink's the Moody who actually makes things happen. Pretty much the best thing that can be said about perennial loser Judy is that she eventually figures out that she needs to abandon her own lame pursuits and glom onto whatever Stink's up to instead.

This is not to say the movie doesn't try hard with every frame, because it does. Oh, my Gaaawd, how it tries. Nearly every shot is a "wacky" close-up or other nutty angle with cartoon sound effects and text and arrows and other crap scribbled on the screen; nearly every cast member hams it up so much they're practically spiral-cut; and there are several irrelevant animated fantasy interludes that make you want to kill yourself and everyone involved in making the movie even more than you did before they started.

I'll give props to Heather Graham for almost not looking embarrassed to be there in several scenes. She plays Judy's stereotypical "free spirited" hippie artist aunt almost as though the rent isn't due, so good on her, I guess.

Oddly enough, I'm reminded of Eyes Wide Shut, about which my first reaction was that although I could see what Kubrick was trying to do, I couldn't decide whether he did it, or whether it was even worth doing. In this case, I can say without reservation that I saw what this movie was trying to do, it certainly did it, and it definitely should not have been done. Watching Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer manages to be both hyperactive and boring at the same time, which means that watching it is almost exactly like being trapped in a small room with an emotionally unstable third-grader. So kudos on accomplishing that, I guess.

posted by M. Giant 9:48 PM 0 comments


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