1. Reviews of films meant for small children are inherently useless. I suppose they have some value for the parents, who are the ones (presumably) paying for the movies in the first place, since they can describe just how tolerable of an experience it's going to be for that particular parent. This is why so many kids movies have little in-jokes that only parents would get; somehow, word has to get around the playground set whether or not a movie acknowledges that parents are even there. But kids movies are for kids, after all, so anyone writing about a kids movie needs to be viewing the film through a kid's eyes. Which is impossible, because we are adults who pay bills and daydream about oral sex. Only a kid could adequately review a kids movie, and they're bad at it, because, let's face it, kids are awful writers. And their taste is lousy too.
2. "Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer" is not a kids movie that attempts to make itself tolerable for parents. It is aggressively, almost pathologically pitched at preteen girls, and preteen girls only. There are no winks at the parents in the theater, no hang in theres. "Judy Moody" has sparkles and puppies and icky grossy pukes, at a breakneck, seizure-inducing pace, with shrieks and giggles and ewwww boys injecting themselves straight into your bloodstream. This may make it more enjoyable for teenage girls than a film that made subtle references to "30 Rock" or something, or it may not. I have no idea. But parents, this is not for you. You're just gonna have to grit your teeth through this one.
3. Should I even bother describing what happens in this movie to you? I suppose you might see a trailer for it, and if you survive the sugar shock, wonder why someone had to put a wallet in your mouth. So. Judy Moody is a 10-year-girl -- I'm guessing on age here; her true age is "hypercaffinated moppet" -- who is tired of having boring summers. So she decides that this summer, this one right now, is gonna be the BEST summer ever. She then spends the summer looking for fun things to do. This is the film's sole conflict: Is Judy Moody going to have a fun summer? Not to get all spoilery, but know that the film does not end with Judy destitute and alone, rueing The Fates that they would pick this summer, out of all summers, to murder her entire family. The summer turns out all right, is what I'm saying.
4. One way for parents to pass the time during these movies is to count the number of adult actors they recognize in various roles. (This is not entirely dissimilar from counting ceiling tiles during a dentist's appointment.) I came up with three. Heather Graham, of all people, has the biggest role as Judy's Aunt Opal, a freewheeling spirit who gets in all kinds of trouble while wearing a pushup bra. (Graham is agreeably game for whatever situation the movie tosses her into. It takes a certain affable nature, I think, for an actress to agree to make a sandwich made of deer poo. Heather Graham possesses this affability. ) In a move that appears designed just to remind parents of their own mortality, Jaleel White, the Urkel guy, plays a teacher. He is as irritating as an adult as he was a child. And during one movie-within-something-vaguely-impersonating-a-movie scene, we ever-so-quickly spot Eric Stoltz, sitting in a car, looking scared. I'm pretty sure it was Eric Stoltz. It sure looked like him. I dunno. I was starting to hallucinate at that point.
5. What more can I tell you here? "Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer" is an assault on the senses, a fever nightmare of color explosions and extreme closeups of a child's tonsils while they scream for the ice cream man. It has the production values and acting skills of the Nickelodeon afternoon programming it probably should have been in the first place. It made me want to hide under my seat and put on a gas mask; it made me want to stop, drop and roll. Does that mean it's not any good? Does that mean kids shouldn't see it? I honestly have no idea. Kids are stupid. They'll watch anything. If they drag you to this, bring insulin. Oh, and lemme know if that's really Eric Stoltz or not.