The Movie Binge

Review: How To Eat Fried Worms

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There comes a time in every adult's life when they realize they simply can't engage with a child's world in the way they used to, and it would appear that I've reached it. Luckily for me as a reviewer, that topic happens to be one of the minor themes in How To Eat Fried Worms; the main theme would appear to be something along the lines of "It's bad to be a bully" or "Worms are gross," but there's an entertaining and refreshing element of What Goes Unsaid taking place in every exchange between adult and child in the film. Your boy Will was right: Parents just don't understand. (Of course, that cuts both ways — the film's father figure, played by Tom Cavanagh, has a few token grown-ups-only office politics scenes that, while clearly kept in the film to briefly perk up the drowsy parents who shepherded their children into the multiplex for an hour and a half of relative quiet, also highlight the mirror-image troubles adults are dealing with in the hours when they're not with their kids.)

As you could probably guess from the title, though, the real business of How To Eat Fried Worms is in gross-out humor, and while the movie could've aimed lower on the scatology scale and blissfully doesn't (not many poop jokes to be found, for example), it still manages to extract a good number of gratuitous, child-pleasing but vaguely pornographic incidents of nastiness from its food-centric focus. There's something vaguely queasy that's endemic to the enterprise of entertaining children with gross-out gags — maybe kids can't think through all the implications of shoving squirming worms into one's bathing-suit area, for example, but the adults writing the screenplay certainly can — but in this particular instance, the film manages to incorporate enough pleasantness and unforced geniality that the serious ick-factor (on an ethical as well as a visual level) remains tolerable.