With the overload of self-serious to the point of silly summer blockbusters, taking time out for a movie like Judy Moody And The NOT Bummer Summer can be a seriously silly bit of summer relief. On top of which, this inventively crafted and visually dazzling in surrealistic primary colors kid adventure presents a novel turn of events, where children get to talk up rather than down to adults instead. Not to mention a refreshing grownup opportunity to pay a beyond vicarious, exhilarating visit to one’s super second childhood, at least for the feature film duration.
Jordana Beatty is Judy Moody, the radically opinionated when not daring and impulsive schoolgirl from the popular Megan McDonald bestseller book series, and sharing her family’s DNA propensity for funny hair. Along with inhabiting a rowdy world, in an alternative, creatively unruly kid universe. And as the kind of girl who tends to be late for school and show up in her pajamas, but thankfully remembers her shoes, Judy is about to freak out big time.
In pursuit of the thrill-a-delic best summer ever, Judy’s hopes take a detour in the opposite direction when her best friends and even her parents take off for summer adventures of their own. Such as embarking on a search for a lost tribe in Borneo that needs to get found, or away on a hunt for fun at a circus camp. And leaving Judy with a mere used-to-be second best friend, and her annoying brother Stink who’s on his own hunt for the elusive Bigfoot, while disguised as a tree.
To make matters worse, Judy is stuck with being minded by the likely awful mystery Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) she’s never met. But who turns out to be a kooky free spirit who may snore in stereo, but once ate roaches in Bali. Leading Judy on an arty discovery via the zany recesses of Aunt Opal’s imagination, even if you’re stuck at home and not off to any exotic realm. Such as serving up tangerine fondue with fruit loops, or putting out a pesky kitchen fire with water guns. Or even, who knows, hopefully turning up at the Eiffel Tower in a possible sequel next summer, to wrap it in ten thousand psychedelic scarves.
The movie may be a bit too high on the junk food meter, and excessively frantic in action sequences towards the narrative finish line when chasing down assorted runaway plot threads, but who cares. John Schultz’s Judy Moody And The NOT Bummer Summer generally delights as it excels in its Juno-in-training wild tween talk lingo. And with generous heaps of sublimely cartoonish kid satire, even at its most hyper-actively hokey interludes.
And likewise intimating that difference is cool, while even fabulous to not repressively conform and be individual in the extreme, and heaps of fun too. Though highly recommended that the daredevil thrill parts of this adventure not be tried out at home, any time soon.