Splashing around at Surf-a-Wave doesn’t help Judy gain any extra thrill points either. And neither does trying to cross the creek in her backyard via tightrope before falling in the shallow mud and muck. She’s a bit bummed, but still not defeated. Maybe dressing up in scary garb and attending the “Evil Creature Double Feature” at the local cineplex with Frank will be just what will give her the thrill points she so desperately needs for a not bummer summer.

But when Frank gets cold feet and isn’t so jazzed about being scared by a creepy motion picture in a dark theater, Judy loses her optimism and her frustrations, as she lets him have it. After telling Frank that he’s deserting her and that Rocky and Amy would have never done that, the spineless sidekick does something that maybe no one anticipated: Frank finds his backbone and calls Judy a “fun sponge,” because she sucks the fun out of everything with her “stupid” thrill points race.

No Fun for a Sponge

“Well, are you a fun sponge?” asks Aunt Opal later on in a scene when Judy is sulking in her room at home. It’s a great moment of reflection for this unlikely, yet loveable, role model for impressionable boys and girls.

“I think the scene with the fun sponge is such a turning point for Judy,” McDonald explains. “I think it’s the moment where she realizes that having a plan with points and dares and charts really isn’t working. She and Frank have a falling out at that point, and it takes a little bit for it to sink in.”

McDonald points to Aunt Opal’s gentle guidance as the key in helping Judy to see that she can’t control everyone or everything in life.

“Judy tells her that she’s mad her friend called her a fun sponge. And Aunt Opal says, ‘Well are you a fun sponge?’ And that line just give me goose-bumps because it’s really like her aunt inviting Judy to reflect on herself and what she’s been doing. So I love that without preaching or giving her a lecture, Aunt Opal kind of invites Judy to come up with this herself.”

It clicks. And from that moment on, Judy determines she will make the most of her summer and have fun with whatever and whomever is around her—including even Stink who is on the hunt for Bigfoot along with the crazy “Bigfoot Believers Association” group that meets in a special “cave” in the back of the local pet store.

And … Action!

Aunt Opal joins the Bigfooters on their search efforts as well, which involves staying up all night in a tent in the backyard, a scary midnight trek through the woods by flashlight and the making of a giant Bigfoot tribute sculpture in Judy’s front yard which eventually draws the attention of a local news crew and secures Stink and Judy a special on-camera interview. Which then leads to a final crazy car chase through town, following the ice cream man and a furry humanoid passenger that looks strangely enough a whole lot like Bigfoot riding in his van.

In the end, Judy’s summer becomes something she never dreamed of and yet she realizes it was pretty much practically perfect in every way—thanks especially to Aunt Opal who, at the end of the film, talks of maybe taking Judy to Paris next summer where they could “make art” by tying scarves to the Eiffel Tower. Or something like that.