How to Eat Fried Worms (2006)
How to Eat Fried Worms (2006)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 2 hrs. 19 min.

Release Date: August 25th, 2006 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Bob Dolman Actors: Luke Benward, Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Adam Hicks, Austin Rogers, Alexander Gould, Clint Howard, James Rebhorn, Tom Cavanagh, Kimberly Williams-Paisley

 


 

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illy (Luke Benward) has just moved to a new school, where he unintentionally finds himself having to prove his worth to the bully of the class, Joe (Adam Hicks). Discouraged with the idea of being the “new kid,” and subjected to the humiliation of his teacher and principal, Billy accepts a challenge from Joe to eat ten worms in the course of a day. If that wasn’t bad enough, Joe continually invents additional rules, including who chooses the worms and how they’re prepared, which leads to many catastrophic and hilarious worm-cooking scenarios. Along the way, Billy finds himself gaining the respect, friendship, and newfound appreciation of his fellow classmates, as well as from his father and little brother.

Diving quickly into the plot, the film presents all the familiar players in the elementary school milieu. Erika (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) is the subtle love interest, while Adam (Austin Rogers), Twitch (Alexander Gould), Benjy (Ryan Malgarini), and Bradley (Philip Daniel Bolden) serve as members of Joe’s rascally group, who eventually start to look up to Billy for his worm-consuming bravery. Based on the hugely popular children’s book by Thomas Rockwell, the cast and screenplay faithfully bring to the screen the strikingly unique story that many people will remember having read while growing up. Although Luke Benward doesn’t stick out as a particularly impressive casting choice, he certainly fits in with the other child actors, and they all muster mischievousness with validity. Clint Howard also makes an appearance as a cook, inadvertently helping the kids with their worm cuisine schemes.

Plenty of hilarious scenes compose the film, as well as overly gratuitous Peckinpah-esque worm violence. Every annelid (aside from the real ones) looks incredibly authentic, even as they are being squashed with rolling pins, microwaved, or getting their innards squirted into the eyes of bystanders. Fortunately – or by industry requirements – a disclaimer at the end of the movie confirms that not a single worm was harmed in the making of the film. It’s strange to think that, on rare occasion, a person might be killed during production, but never a cockroach, spider, or worm. But, to be fair, animals never choose to participate in cinema.

The cinematography, lighting, and editing are done inconspicuously well. Properly paced and approximately just over 90 minutes long, parents will be delighted to know that they might enjoy the film as much as their children. “How To Eat Fried Worms” maintains an appropriate PG language and mood, albeit a low level of maturity, so anyone who doesn’t actually eat worms will be greatly entertained. Plus, this endeavor is far superior to several recent kids’ movies, such as “Keeping Up With the Steins” (which was absolutely dreadful) and “Barnyard” (which was also terrible).

With role-model characters, moral lessons, a touch of nostalgia, and enough uncomfortably gross, worm-devouring scenes to last a lifetime, “How to Eat Fried Worms” is the kind of picture worthy of the wide range of audiences who will see it (even if not by choice but through supervision). Although there were certainly opportunities, there are, thankfully, no extremely annoying characters, while the occasional preachiness never turns patronizing or threatens to overwhelm the comedic situations. And this is certainly a friendlier option for anyone who can’t handle “Snakes on a Plane,” which coincidentally opened one week earlier.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10