Going to the movies with the little ones is risky business. Lately, it's all too common to be taken by surprise by some of the high tech gimmicks, swaggering violence, or other age-inappropriate scenes and language that sometimes pop out of left field in a supposedly PG rated family film.
In this regard, Hollywood just can't help itself when making films intended for children.
This isn't the case with Relativity's release of John Schultz's "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" movie. This film is based on the beloved Judy Moody children's book series by Megan McDonald, who also wrote the screenplay.
Unlike the one-size-fits all family films of today, "Not Bummer Summer" is a safe movie for children of any age (but probably best for the under 10 crowd, though). The characters are deliberately annoying, and the corresponding potty humor and multi-colored bodily fluids make their routine appearance -- no self-respecting children's film would be complete without them, right?
However, this kids film is also a Technicolor frolic of miss-matched outfits, unkempt hair and low-tech fun full of inspiring creativity which might encourage the plugged-in pre-teen set to come up with some unique old-fashioned summer fun of their own.
The book-to-screen Judy Moody is played by Australian child actor Jordana Beatty ("Eloise"), as a spunky 8 year old determined to have the best summer ever. On the last day of school, she plans a series of dares with her friends to carry out over the school break, and whoever accumulates 100 Thrill Points by the end of the summer wins.
But her BFFs unexpectedly leave for far off vacations (circus camp and Borneo), and she's left with her nerdy friend Frank (Preston Bailey), and younger brother Stink (Parris Mosteller) to carry out her meticulously planned competition via long-distance emails (no iPhones, Facebook, texting or Tweeting here).
To make matters worse, her parents leave to help ailing grandpa in California, and the kids have to stay behind with Aunt Opal (Heather Graham, "Hangover") a free spirited, eccentric world traveler -- more like a modern-day version of a hippy.
In a not-so-original twist, Aunt Opal saves the summer with a trunk full of "Gorilla Art" and other out-of-box ideas for the kids to survive the inevitable spell of summer boredom.
There is nothing better than an innocent, heartwarming film about summer for young kids. “Judy Moody” is a children's movie, after all, so you definitely get your fair share of bathroom jokes and too much sugary foods.
Though some adults may think the film is pointless, I found the moral of the light story to be very simple: There is always fun to be had somewhere, even in your own neighborhood, you just have to look!
The film industry is always trying to attract the whole family to one film, but often ends up leaving the most innocent members ducking behind their hands or plugging their ears to avoid the hail of unnecessary content sometimes not even a Disney film can avoid in an effort to make an all-for-one film.
"Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" won't zing your unsuspecting tykes, but it just might ignite their imagination to create a not so bummer summer of their own!