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How to Eat Fried Worms Review

Published August 25, 2006 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of New Line Cinema.
How to Eat Fried Worms Poster How to Eat Fried Worms Poster
How to Eat Fried Worms is an ideal kids movie. It’s astute but subtle so that kids can get the message but not feel lectured. It’s not in your face and dumbed down. The kids’ antics are plenty gross and fun, but there’s a real reason all the craziness is going on.

How to Eat Fried Worms Review

The new kid in town, Billy (Luke Benward) has a run in with the school bully, who puts worms in his thermos. To save face, Billy claims he eats worms all the time, so the bully bets him he can’t eat 10 worms. Despite his extremely sensitive stomach, Billy takes the bet to stand up to the bully.

Right away, Billy has balls. He turns a prank right back on the bullies. That should have made him a hero already, so adding the bet should be posturing. But in this world, it’s just the follow through.

The film creates a realistic atmosphere of kids playing without constructing a surreal fantasy world. They have their little urban legends like the death ring, so there’s backstory. The bet is the most important thing in their world, at least for this weekend, so all their energies go into seeing it through.

The bullies really cheat, spinning Billy around to make him sicker. The bet wasn’t eat fried worms in any circumstance. And the foods they mix in with the worms are grosser than the worms themselves. The concoctions would make anyone vomit anyway.

The main bully has a very real motivation, and it’s only explained in one scene. His brother is a bully to him, but the film never says “He does this because this happened to him.” It’s just there, and kids will be able to pick up on it. By the way, why is the bully always a redhead with freckles? It’s true in real life too. I remember redhead kids picking on me.

Billy has a great father who doesn’t talk down to him, doesn’t simplify philosophical ideas, just talks straight. Dad gives him credit for having a brain to think with, not needing to be told what to do.

Perhaps in going for natural seeming kids, they dismissed the need for good actors. These boys act like a director is giving them line readings before each take. Some of the “quirky” sidekicks are just annoying, most of all the gibberish kid but also the awkward dancing buffoon.

There are some glaring continuity mistakes too. When the kid does Dance Dance Revolution to show that he has a talent, not only does the screen clearly say “Boo” showing he’s missing the beats, they actually insert a closeup of the screen showing that he’s missing all the beats.

But in a genre for which standards are low anyway, the strengths of Fried Worms far outweigh the negatives. It will be interesting to see if kids respond to an intelligent story as much as the standardized talking animal movies.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of New Line Cinema.

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