By the end of “Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer” Judy won’t be the only moody one. Parents unlucky enough to have to attend this manic adaptation of the popular Megan McDonald book series will likely go through a gamut of moods including irritation and vexation.
The story is simple enough. Judy (Jordana Beatty) a precocious third grader on summer break, planned to have the greatest school holiday of her life, but when her best friends leave for circus camp and an extended trip to Borneo she is left to her own devices. As the movie’s title implies, things look up when her parents get called away to California and bring in free spirited Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) to babysit. Suddenly the summer’s not such a bummer after all.
This is a movie for the eight-and-under crowd, a loud, hyper slice of shenanigans that doesn’t aim to entertain anyone over a grade three reading level. What it lacks in story it makes up for in slapstick which is probably fine for the pre-tweens but will test the will of their guardians to stay in their seats for the whole ninety minute running time.
Mixed in with plucky Judy’s tomfoolery are some messages about friendship and imagination but they are overwhelmed by the movie’s chaotic middle hour wall of noise.
Despite the presence of the fetching “Boogie Nights” star Heather Graham there’s nothing particularly cinematic about “Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer,” which suggests that a viewing could wait until it comes out on DVD… and parents can safely sit in the next room while the kids watch this on TV.