Friday, June 10, 2011



In 1996 former Raleigh resident, and former member of local favorites the Connells, John Schultz made one of my favorite independent films: BANDWAGON, about a fictional struggling indie band.

Since then Schultz has been mainly making kids movies like LIKE MIKE, WHEN ZACHARY TAYLOR CAME TO TOWN, and ALIENS IN THE ATTIC.

That family film streak continues with JUDY MOODY AND THE NOT BUMMER SUMMER, based on Megan McDonald's "Judy Moody" children's book series, which I had never heard of before since I'm 41 and don't have any kids.

Okay, so I'm not in the target audience for this movie.

I'll still proceed - Jordana Beatty plays the precocious title character, who's cute but often hyper-irritating as she bounces from frame to frame , spouting out self consciously hipisms like "rare" in place of "cool," and plotting every activity with charts in a control freak manner that even annoys her close friends.

After their teacher Urkel (I mean Jaleel White) dismisses class for the summer, 2 of Beatty's friends take off - Taylor Hender to clown camp; Garrett Ryan to circus camp.

Beatty is stuck with the nerdy Preston Bailey who gets in the way of racking up those "thrill-a-delic" points our heroine imposed on her chums.

Then there's Parris Mosteller as Beatty's brother Stink, who wishes to spend the summer tracking down Bigfoot, because reports indicate he's in the area.

Their parents (Kristoffer Winters and Janet Varney) leave for a emergency trip (I can't remember why or where), and Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) arrives to take care of the kids.

Graham is a free-spirited artist (she calls herself a "guerilla artist" but that's hard to believe), and Beatty takes to her immediately.

Beatty's Judy Moody exhausting antics in spastic scenes full of harmless destruction disinterested me to the point of wondering about Graham's character. I kept thinking a dark side that she was running away from would be revealed (addiction, abusive relationship, something sinister), but then I caught myself - what the Hell kind of movie did I think I was watching?

This isn't catching up with an aging Roller-Girl! This is a loud and brightly lit kid's romp in which the only thing close to edgy is poop and vomit jokes.

I really feel out of my element writing about this movie. The kids at the preview screening were howling with laughter, while every tired gag made me roll my eyes. But again, this isn't a movie for me.

It's a disposable candy wrapper of a movie, that I bet kids will outgrow right after seeing it. Schultz seems to have found his niche making such teenybopper tripe. I'm sure it pays the bills, but when I think back to his promising debut BANDWAGON, it just doesn't seem right.

At least Connells fans who take their kids to it will enjoy trying to pick out lead singer Doug MacMillon's cameo (MacMillan has appeared in all of Schultz's films).

That's all I got out of it anyway.

More later...

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