A scene from How To Eat Fried Worms.


How to Eat Fried Worms

Stars: Tom Cavanagh, Clint Howard

Director: Bob Doman

Rating: PG

** (out of five)

After Holes and The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe made children’s books the stuff of big box-office, it was obvious we’d be seeing a lot more of them.

Now, Walden Media, the company behind those previous successes, has released its big-screen version of Thomas Rockwell’s grade-school fixture How To Eat Fried Worms. I suspect I’d have liked it a lot more if I was still eight years old.

Oh, the colors are bright, there’s lot of noise on the soundtrack, and the narrative is really just a series of gross-out images involving wriggly things and food.

The movie version of How To Eat Fried Worms will be especially disappointing to those of us who fondly remember reading Rockwell’s book when we were smaller; screenwriter-director Bob Dolman has abandoned almost everything that made the book so memorable, including its young characters’ oddly level-headed approach to the capturing, cooking and consumption of the titular critters, and the idea of worm-eating as something to do because, well, kids do plenty of dumb stuff when they’re kids.

The movie industry being what it is, How to Eat Fried Worms is now a story about standing up to bullies, retaining one’s self-worth, and making sure the audience knows no actual worms were harmed in the making of the film, although it sure does seem otherwise.

The kids are appealing enough, though they’re not asked to do much besides make icky faces and ride their bikes in endless circles. Almost every one of their scenes ends in frantic yelling and running, and for a movie so concerned with imparting moral lessons, they commit a surprising amount of vandalism.

If that appeals to you, great. Everybody else is gonna get queasy.

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