HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS
***1/2 (out of 5)
August 25, 2006
Luke Benward as BILLY
Hallie Kate Eisenberg as ERIKA
Adam Hicks as JOE
Austin Rogers as ADAM
Alexander Gould as TWITCH
Ryan Malgarini as BENJY
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Bob Dolman
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
“How to Eat Fried Worms” was one of the funniest, edgiest and grossest books I ever read in grade school. When I first saw they were making a film version, I was both excited and worried. It’s so easy for Hollywood to ruin a great book. After all, they’ve got a lot of practice doing that.
But I was still excited. I thought the story would make a great film. It’s got a great message to the bullies of the world, and the kid eats a ton of worms. Who couldn’t love that.
However, when I went to see the movie, I was surprised at how little I actually remembered from the book. Don’t be too hard on me, though. I read it almost 30 years ago, so something was bound to slip.
The biggest difference I noticed was that all the worm eating goes on over the course of a single Saturday, rather than over the course of several days. However, the spirit still seemed to be there – as did the nasty worm-eating scenes (including one covered in marshmallow and another swallowed raw and whole).
The movie is a typical kids story. Billy (Luke Benward) is the new kid at a school, and because of his existence, he’s bullied by Joe (Adam Hicks). After Joe and his gang fills Billy’s thermos with earthworms, Billy tells Joe he loves to eat worms. To punctuate this, Billy throws a worm at Joe, and the bully freaks out. This earns Billy the annoying nickname of “Worm Boy.”
Although Billy’s always had a sour stomach, he bets Joe that he could eat ten worms, hoping to get him off his back. However, Joe holds his feet to the fire, organizing a worm hunt and planning a day of worm gorging for Billy.
Like many kids films, there are several common characters. There’s the dimwitted principal, the aloof parents and the “icky” girl who helps Billy out in a pinch. “How to Eat Fried Worms” runs on cliches, but that’s to be expected for a kids movie like this.
If this movie were made 20 years ago, it would have most likely been one of those live-action Saturday morning specials. However, since cable television and 24-hour cartoon networks have all but killed Saturday morning television for kids, “How to Eat Fried Worms” made it to the big screen.
Don’t expect anything too complicated from this movie. It pushes all the buttons it should for a film with it’s target demographic.
I took my five-year-old kid to see the film, and he liked the film (although he had to close his eyes during some of the worm eating). The kids in the theater also seemed to like the film, and that’s a pretty decent endorsement. After all, they’re unencumbered by the materialistic euphoria of a free advance screening ticket.
“How to Eat Fried Worms” makes a great little family film to take the kids’ minds off of the impending (or already underway) start of the school year. Yes, it’s a gross-out comedy, but safe for younger viewers.