How To Eat Fried Worms

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +3

Content: +3

Luke Benward, Adam Hicks, Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Kimberly Williams, Tom Cavanagh. Family comedy. Written & directed by Bob Dolman.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Based on the hugely popular Thomas Rockwell book, How To Eat Fried Worms, the film revolves around 11-year-old Billy, the new kid in town, who inadvertently challenges the school bully. In order to save face and earn the respect of his new classmates, Billy agrees to a bet that calls for him to eat 10 worms in one day. As the pressure mounts, Billy must summon all his strength to keep his younger brother from blabbing, his weak stomach from betraying him, and his big mouth from getting him in even more trouble.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Funny, creative, disgusting - its everything kids love in movies. And though I was not looking forward to it, I also found this to be a genuinely entertaining movie-going experience. This was a surprise as both the trailer and the film itself feature squirmy night crawlers as co-stars. Although I understand Gods purpose for the wiggly earth movers, I confess a bigotry for them. But the filmmakers had me with the opening credits. Done in animation, these initial sequences set the stage and did so with wit, quickly assuring me that the filmmakers were not just cranking out another inane film aimed at indiscriminate adolescents.

As each of the cast was introduced, I again realized that those associated with the production not only wanted to make a good film, but knew how. Sharp writing and good casting are the two main ingredients. Walden Media then adds in a proficient director (Bob Dolman, Willow, Far and Away) who gives the proceedings a lively, well-paced narrative, one that is honest in its emotional impact.

Theres another essential ingredient needed to raise a kids film above the rest theme and how to reveal it. If a storyteller has a message, he must measure it out, then drizzle it into the mixture sparingly. Mr. Dolman does so. And what wonderful messages he does include. The picture deals with kids wanting to fit in, but realizing that standing up for who they are is more important than trying to be like everyone else. Here the lead wins over the bullys minions by being himself, then eventually stands up for the bully. Our young hero learns, as we do, that bullies behave as they do usually because they are being mistreated in some manner themselves, and that it is best to not judge too quickly. Thats not easy for a kid to learn. Or anyone else for that matter. So a film like this helps educate while entertaining.

Though I freely admit I had to look away a couple of times when the squirming co-stars were mixed into culinary concoctions meant to unsettle even the bravest of breadbaskets; I found the entire production to be a delight. A funny film parents will enjoy with the little ones.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
New Line Cinema

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: There is some mild crude humor such as the site of a little kid picking his nose and the discussions concerning puking. There is some mild name calling. Have a weak stomach? Beware that we see some disgusting images of disgusting food preparation.

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: The bully pushes the lead and threatens him and others with physical harm, but never carries out the threats.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: The father has a glass of wine with dinner.

Other: Though the principal is the object of ridicule, the kids calling him Boiler Head, there is a positive relationship between the parents and the lead boy.

Running Time: 98 minutes
Intended Audience: Family, especially kids

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.