JUDY MOODY AND THE NOT BUMMER SUMMER. Starring: Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Paris Mosteller, Janet Varner, Kristoffer Winters. Directed by: John Schultz. 91 minutes. Rated G.
Lollipop coloured and saccharine flavoured, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer is NOT a film to be recommended for grownups wanting to be entertained or at least not irked or bored, when taking their children to the pictures.
Based on the novel by Megan McDonald, Judy Moody (Jordana Beatty) is a red-haired, bossy, rather shrill Californian third grader, who has a number of thrill- seeking activities planned for herself and her clique of three friends over the summer, before learning that two of them will be having thrilling adventures elsewhere.
Worse is to come when Judy Moody’s long-suffering parents tell Judy and her noxious little brother Stink (Paris Mosteller) that they will be house-sat over the summer by their mother’s wacky sister, Aunt Opal (Heather Graham).
Coaxed out of her bedroom where she has retreated in protest at the ruination of all her summer plans, Judy succumbs to Aunt Opal’s flower-child charm, and between sightings and seemingly fruitless chasings with Stink of the mythical (now urban) monster Big Foot, discovers that fun-times can’t always be planned.
What works on the page doesn’t necessarily work on the screen, and in the case of Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, narrative clarity and intelligence is required, not just hyperreal colours, grown-ups acting like children (such as the banjo-playing black teacher Mr Tod), and the running together of trendy nonsense words that are totally NOT ‘supermegatotally thrilladelic’.
What does work, however, is the performance of rising young Australian actor Jordana Beatty (Eloise in Paris, Home and Away) as Judy Moody. She along with Heather Graham as Aunt Opal makes the film almost bearable.
Jan Epstein is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out 27th October 2012.