By the time the end credits rolled, I found myself thinking of Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer as less of a kids movie than it was a very convincing tract for the advantages of vasectomies. Not as crass or gross as the bulk of the current crop of kids movies, Judy Moody instead makes up for this through sheer force of cotton-candy colors and clawing, shrill obnoxiousness.
The film follows our titular Miss Moody (Jordana Beatty)—a sort of slovenly dressed 21st-century Pippi Longstocking who has ditched the pigtails for a mop of red hair—on her third-grade summer vacation. Her one concern, it appears, is to not have a boring summer, something that’s put into peril when all her friends—and then even her parents—run off for the summer. What follows that premise is less a plot than it is a parade of increasingly grating setpieces involving Judy’s attempts to save her summer through shrieking brattiness fueled by bouts of ADHD (or possibly a mild, off-screen addiction to uppers).
So we get scenes like a roller-coaster ride that ends in a regurgitated snow cone, a subplot about hunting down Bigfoot and any number of other negligible goings on. It’s all in a seeming attempt at emulating the style (and success) of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid flicks. But where the Wimpy Kid films showed some real-world restraint and touched on relatable, universal themes, Judy Moody is all about half-baked attempts at pure overstimulation. When you attempt to coat your film in frenetics and sugary, pop-art colors and you’ve still managed to test the patience—and fortitude—of your audience, then something has clearly gone amiss. In our post-Speed Racer (2008) world, you’ve really got to show some effort.
I suppose if you’re some wee youngster, you’ll fare better through this abominable thing. Then again, if you’re a wee youngster you’re probably not reading this review. And if you are, where are your parents? Wherever they are, do them and favor and see Kung Fu Panda 2 instead. Rated PG for some mild rude humor and language.