HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS
When his parents Mitch and Helen Forrester (Tom Cavanagh, Kimberly Williams-Paisley) move house, eleven year old Billy (Luke Benward) dreads going to his new school. Unlike his young brother Woody (Ty Panitz), who fits in anywhere, Billy is self-conscious and is worried about fitting in and making friends. On his very first day at school, the school bully Joe Guire (Adam Hicks) plants worms in Billy's lunch. Much to everyone's surprise, Billy stands up to him, but the resulting bet demands that Billy eat 10 worms on Saturday. With only the tall, lanky Erika Tanzy (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) as an ally, Billy has to stop his baby brother from blabbing and keep a check on the state of his queasy stomach, as he swallows his distaste trying to save face.
Review by Louise Keller:
Sad to say, I was the only person in the audience on opening day at Sydney's Greater Union multiplex, and more's the pity. With its universal themes about fitting in, How To Eat Fried Worms is an endearing family film guaranteed to provide a wriggling good time. While the premise has a certain gross-out factor which will delight eleven year old boys, the script is clever, and the young cast are naturals who act exactly as you would expect. It's funny and as down to earth as the worms in the story, while the resolution more than satisfies.
When we meet Billy Forrester (Luke Benward), we can tell straight away that he is a self-conscious kid who worries about things. Don't put any notes in my lunchbox,' he begs his mother, never imagining how bad things could get when the school bully Joe Guire (Adam Hicks) plants long, slimy garden worms in his thermos. Billy gets caught by his own false bravado as a worm eater from way back and has no option but to put his mouth where the worms are.
For each of the 10 worms that Billy needs to eat, there is a wild new adventure waiting to begin. From the barbeque at the local park to various kitchens where the worms are fried in lashings of pork fat, doused in murderously hot chilli mix, squashed with peanut butter, blended with spinach and stirred up with marshmallow and ketchup. They are even given descriptive names for effect: The Burning Fireball, The Greasy Brown Toad Bloater Special, The Barfmallow, The Green Slusher and Radioactive Slime Delight There's a funny sequence when a pan-fried worm is camouflaged into an omelette which, much to the boys' amusement, is enthusiastically eaten by the school's grouch of a headmaster.
Benward and Hicks and all the boys give terrific performances, and Billy's kid brother Woody, played by Ty Panitz, is simply adorable. Hallie Kate Eisenberg shows great maturity as the kindly Erika ('sorry I'm so tall; boys are so weird'), who befriends Billy. There is a sweet sense of the ridiculous in all the pranks, and there is never any doubt that the essence of friendship and doing the right thing will shine through.
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HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS (PG)
CAST: Luke Benwald, Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Ty Panitz, Adam Hicks, Austin Rogers, Alexander Gould, Ryan Malgarini, Philip Bolden, Clint Howard, James Rebhorn, Thomas Cavanagh, Kimberley Williams
PRODUCER: Mark Johnson
DIRECTOR: Bob Dolman
SCRIPT: Bob Dolman (novel by Thomas Rockwell)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Richard Rutkowski
EDITOR: Janice Hampton, Frederick Wardell
MUSIC: Mark & Bob Mothersbaugh
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Catey Maxey
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 1, 2007
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