Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

2011, PG, 91 min. Directed by John Schultz. Starring Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Jaleel White, Preston Bailey, Parris Mosteller, Janet Varney, Kristoffer Winters, Robert Costanzo, Sharon Sachs, Jackson Odell.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., June 17, 2011

We’re very glad Judy Moody’s summer turned out not to be a bummer and wish the same could be said for the reviewers who have to sit through her movie. The film is based on the Judy Moody book series, and the screenplay was penned by the series’ author, Megan McDonald, along with Kathy Waugh. It’s a near-tween story that seems geared instead toward youngsters who can only dream of the day they’ll become as cool and independent as their tween elders. Certainly, the film’s overall candy-colored production design by Cynthia Kay Charette looks as though it was created for connoisseurs of those giant boxes of Crayolas. Judy (Beatty) is bummed out because her two best friends are leaving town to do fun things on their summer vacation and she’s stuck at home with her little brother Stink (Mosteller), whose only summer plan is to catch Bigfoot. Then Judy’s parents suddenly have to go out of town for the summer and leave their children under the supervision of their Aunt Opal (Graham), whom the children have never met. Judy’s goal of collecting the most “thrill points” of any of her friends seems doomed. Opal, however, turns out to be an artist who travels with a trunk full of art supplies and has just returned stateside from a sojourn in Bali. She calls herself a guerrilla artist, but her definition lacks any political or social context. Guerrilla art in her usage involves repurposing everyday items as art objects, thus metal trash-can lids are decorated and become hats for lions (and let's never wonder about all the possums and other critters now making a mess of the family's uncovered trash). Although I’m generally a fan of movies that choose to star girls (of any age) as their lead subjects, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer simply strikes the same whiny chord over and over. Beatty’s exuberance and uncombed mop of red hair are deliciously appealing, but as you study her face further you begin to wonder if her bee-stung lips and perfect eyebrows have been engineered to complement her unruly hair. As Opal, Graham had a shot at becoming one of those great Auntie Mame-like characters, but her Opal is too anemic to be anything but a bubbly, post-porn Rollergirl gone artsy. When Jaleel White (aka Urkel from Family Matters) is a movie’s most sedate character, you know you’re in for a noisy ride.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More John Schultz Films
Aliens in the Attic
A group of kids save their vacation home from extraterrestrials while keeping their clueless elders out of the loop.

Marc Savlov, Aug. 7, 2009

The Honeymooners
Instead of reworking the original TV show’s subject matter regarding class and marriage, this is plodding mimicry featuring a predominantly African-American cast.

Marrit Ingman, June 10, 2005

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
This Job Will Change Your Life
This Job Will Change Your Life
Former staff reflect on the zigs and zags of life post-Chronicle

Sept. 3, 2021

Story of America's itinerant population wanders too much

Feb. 19, 2021


Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, John Schultz, Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Jaleel White, Preston Bailey, Parris Mosteller, Janet Varney, Kristoffer Winters, Robert Costanzo, Sharon Sachs, Jackson Odell

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle