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The Forrester family - father Mitch Forrester, mother Helen Forrester, their pre-teen son Billy Forrester and their pre-school son Woody Forrester - have just moved to a new town where Mitch is starting a new job. Both Mitch and Billy are worried about fitting into their new environment. It's worse for Billy as Woody, who is not worried about the move, is at that stage in his life where everything is simple and easy. Billy's first day in the fifth grade at his new school does not go well when he gets into an altercation with the class bullies, led by Joe Guire. The altercation involves worms and Billy stating that he eats worms all the time, which leads to all the bullies calling him "Wormboy". As such, Joe bets Billy that he can't eat ten worms (without vomiting), the bet to take place this upcoming Saturday, with the last worm to be consumed by 7pm. Despite having a notoriously weak stomach, Billy takes him up on the bet. As the bet starts, the only classmate on Billy's side is ... Written by
It started out slow after an excellent animated intro, as the director had a bunch of characters and school setting to develop. Once the bet is on, though, the movie picks up the pace as it's a race against time to see if a certain number of worms can be eaten by 7 pm. We had a good opportunity on the way home to discuss some things with our son: bullies, helping others, mind over matter when you don't want to do something.
Of special note is the girl who played Erica (Erk): Hallie Kate Eisenberg. The director kinda sneaks her in unexpectedly, and when she is on-screen she is captivating. She's one of those "Hey, she looks familiar" faces, and then I remembered that she was the little girl that Pepsi featured about 8 years ago. She was also in "Paulie", that movie about the parrot who tries to find his way home.
Ms. Eisenberg made many TV and movie appearances in '99-00, but then was not seen much for the next few years. She's now 14 and is growing up to be a beautiful woman. Her smile really warms up the screen. If she can get some more good roles she could have as good a career (or better?) than Haley Joel Osment, another three named kid actor, but hopefully without some of the problems that Osment has been in lately.
Anywhozitz, according to my 8 y.o. son, who just finished reading the story, the film did not seem to follow the book all that well, but was entertaining none the less. The ending of the film seemed like a big setup for some sequels (How to Eat Boiled Slugs? Escargot Kid's Style?), which might not be such a bad thing. It was nice to take the family to a movie and not have to worry about language, violence or sex scenes.
One other good aspect of the movie was the respect/fear engendered by the principal Mr. Burdock (Boilerplate). Movies nowadays tend to show adult authority figures as buffoons. While he has one particular goofy scene, he ruled the school with a firm hand. It was also nice to see Andrea Martin getting some work.
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