tek's rating: meh and a half

How to Eat Fried Worms (PG)
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This is based on a book that I never read. Although when I was a kid, I remember seeing the story animated as an episode of CBS Storybreak, and I think I liked that a lot better than this movie. In fact, when I first started watching, I wasn't entirely sure I'd sit through the whole DVD. But I did, and it got better, eventually. Not great, but... it had its moments, and its good points, I guess. Still, overall it was fairly boring.

It begins with an animated opening sequence that illustrates to the viewer that the main character, 11-year-old Billy Forrester, has a weak stomach, and is prone to throwing up, as he's easily grossed out. And then he and his family- his mother, Helen (Kimberly Williams-Paisley); father, Mitch; and little brother Woody, who I think is in kindergarten- move to a new town. There are subplots about Woody being popular at his new school, but how hard can that be; and about Mitch having trouble fitting in at his new job. But mostly, of course, the movie is about Billy. Anyway, the opening sequence ends with the car running over a turtle (which isn't injured, btw), and from that point on the movie is almost exclusively live-action, though there's a little bit of animation, like one time when Billy's dreaming. Not that any of this matters....

Um. So anyway, Billy isn't excited about being the new kid. He does meet a girl named Erika (Hallie Kate Eisenberg), who's nice to him. But she herself is ostracized from the other kids, apparently for being kind of tall. And Billy is soon harassed for simply being new. There's a group of boys, led by a kid named Joe, who put worms in Billy's thermos. Then Billy says he eats them all the time, and throws one at Joe. The next day all the kids start calling Billy "Worm Boy," and hassle him for the rest of the week, finally cornering him into taking a bet that he can eat 10 worms, on Saturday, by 7pm. If he loses, he'll have to walk through the school with worms in his pants, on Monday. If he wins, Joe will have to do the same.

So, that's pretty much the rest of the movie. Kids roaming around town all day, finding whatever disgusting ways they can imagine to cook worms for Billy to eat (and part of the bet is that he can't throw up). Meanwhile, Billy is supposed to be looking after Woody, and he gets Erika to help with that. In the course of the day, various kids are either told by Joe to join Billy's team, or decide to quit Joe's team just because they don't like him. But of course, we also get to see that Joe's bullying comes from being bullied himself, by his older brother.

Not sure what else to say. It was mildly amusing at times. And it had some lessons you've probably seen a million times already (or maybe just a few hundred, if you're young enough to be in the film's target demographic). So anyway, I can't say how different the movie is from the book, but there's plenty that's different from the Storybreak episode....

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