By Steve Persall
Times Film Critic
The MPAA needs another rating for movies like Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, something opposite of NC-17 that doesn't allow children to see movies that could warp them.
Something like NC-10, so anyone over that age is also turned away for their own good. At the very least, they shouldn't be asked to pay more than child ticket prices.
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer is a nice but unnecessary movie for small children who can find the same level of entertainment on kiddie cable networks. At a Saturday morning screening they mildly enjoyed the poop jokes and already-been-chewed food gags. Judy's coined phrases like "thrilladelic" might work into their vocabularies for a while. A few might wish to hunt Bigfoot like her bratty brother Stink.
Jordana Beatty plays Judy, a hyperactive young tween whose plans for the most thrilladelic summer vacation ever are ruined by two friends leaving town. One's heading to circus camp, so we're guaranteed a scene under the big top (or medium top, to be precise). Judy is stuck with Stink (Parris Mosteller) and nerdy pal Frank (Preston Bailey), so staying in her bedroom is the best plan until a Mary Poppins breezes through the door.
Judy's long-lost Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) takes charge of Judy and Stink while their parents are away, bringing her style of oddball inspiration. She's a guerrilla artist turning junk into … well, it's interesting, if not exactly art. Opal can do it all, except drive a car, so we're guaranteed at least one scene of vehicular recklessness. The Bigfoot angle makes this Stink's movie for a while, which isn't bad.
Beatty has a refreshing plain-Jane appearance, the better for real girls to relate, and her sugar-rush enthusiasm is fun until it turns grating with repetition about halfway through. Seeing Graham in a squeaky-clean role like this after her saucy career (Boogie Nights, The Hangover) is an interesting novelty.
And no kidding: Jaleel "Urkel" White as Judy's pathologically upbeat, banjo-playing teacher steals the show. Did he do that? Yes, but only because it's there for the taking.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365.