So maybe summer’s not going to be so bummer after all.

Opalesence Awesomeness

“Aunt Opal’s a great character,” explains author, screenwriter and former children’s librarian Megan McDonald who created the best-selling Judy Moody young adult book series upon which the film is based. “She was kind of inspired by my sister who showed up at my house once for a visit. She had this huge, huge suitcase and my husband could barely even lift it to get it into the house. And she unzips it and out came all these art supplies and soldering irons and all this stuff she wanted to have to just have fun making art.

“I love Judy’s parents,” McDonald continues. “But they have to be about rules and bedtimes and all of that stuff. So I wanted to get them off stage [in the screenplay] and let this kind of artistic, kooky, fun-loving aunt come in and be almost like a grown-up Judy.”

At this point, it’s understandable if parents are thinking: Great! Another film where the kids are savvy and in control and the adults look and act like imbeciles. But it’s not. If anything, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer shows how an imaginative child learns to make the most of her unexpected summer, resolves conflict with a friend and even has fun while growing up a little in the process.

“It’s real kids and real family and every day,” McDonald says. “[The film] is kind of set apart because it’s live action, and there’s some animation when it goes into Judy’s imagination. But I also think it’s fun to just kind of go back to simpler times in a way of that everyday childhood. It helps kids to really connect with Judy as a character, because [she’s going through] things that any everyday kid would go through.”

As Judy, Jordana Beatty agrees that the film is fun and “good for all ages—and even your parents will like it.” While Stink's Parris Mosteller simply says it’s great “because it’s mostly kids.”

Got Thrill Points?

As the star character of Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, Judy and her crazy, mix-and-match outfits are present in every scene of the film. And her creative juices really get flowing as the pace quickens when Judy has to resort to Plan B for her summer endeavors. By devising a “Not Bummer Summer Dare” thrill-point race, she’ll surely still have fun while keeping in touch with her best friends through e-mail and snail mail as they rack up thrill points of their own. 

It all sounds well and good until Judy’s attempts to achieve these thrills just don’t pan out quite the way she planned. Riding the Scream Monster rollercoaster just ends up with Frank losing his lunch, and his cotton candy, and his hotdog and his ice cream and everything else he’s been eating at the amusement park as he and Judy take their first dive downward.  Ewww.