How to Eat Fried Worms

2006-11-03 17:35

Moving to a new town and a new school is never easy, but 11-year-old Billy (Luke Benward) only makes things more difficult for himself when he stands up to the biggest bully, Joe Guire (Adam Hicks), on his first day. Joe’s cronies have secretly filled Billy’s thermos flask with worms and, when lunchtime arrives, they accuse him of eating worms. Billy calls their bluff and bets Joe he can eat 10 worms in one day. There’s just one problem – Billy has an incredibly weak stomach, and even the idea of eating a worm makes him feel ill. Luckily he has one friend, a tall girl named Erika (Hallie Kate Eisenberg), on his side. He’ll need all the help he can get as Joe and his gang begin dreaming up disgusting ways to cook the worms.


Childrens’ movies aren’t what they used to be. Over the last decade the arms race between giants like Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks has produced movies that are increasingly aimed at parents rather than kids. Movies like Shrek 2 and Hoodwinked are good fun and kids enjoy them, but more than half of the humour goes over their heads. So it’s great to see a movie like How to Eat Fried Worms that talks to its intended audience (6 to 11-year-olds) in ways they enjoy, and doesn’t really care who else is watching.

Not that the movie is a burden for adult viewers. It has a giddy sense of fun that reminds you of what it was like to be young, coupled with a surprisingly sharp sense of humour. Just don’t expect any irony – this movie is as sincere as they come. And if the idea of seeing someone eat worms puts you off, remember that for boys and girls of a certain age nothing could be more fascinating. However much the world changes, kids are still kids.

And this is the movie’s real secret. Based on Thomas Rockwell’s hugely popular book of the same name, it taps directly into the mentality of an 11-year-old boy. Many children’s stories are about children, but very few of them actually talk to children in ways they appreciate. How to Eat Fried Worms refuses to patronise, and never hesitates to jump headlong into silliness. It’s no wonder that Rockwell’s novel has sold nearly 3 million copies since it was first published in 1973.

Apart from being good fun, the movie also has a big heart and purity of intention that is refreshing. This sort of sincere emotion has largely disappeared out of popular culture, leaving kids to subsist on jaded irony and syrupy morality. How to Eat Fried Worms accomplishes what so many other films fail to do: it addresses a serious topic, in this case bullying, in a delightful and slyly educational way. And, although it does get a little mushy towards the end, there’s never any hint of the artificial moral sweetener that ruins so many other fun films.

The movie has its flaws of course. The young cast are enthusiastic, but often tend towards overacting and showing off. There is a largely irrelevant sub-plot involving the parents that is neither as funny or as interesting as what the kids are up to. It also deviates a great deal from the original book in ways that fans and purists might find disappointing or annoying.

And, of course, there is the consumption of the worms. Whether this is a flaw or not is largely up to the strength of your own stomach. The worms are made to look extremely realistic as they are cooked and eaten, but animal lovers can rest easy, not one real worm was killed or even hurt during the production. The real question is whether your 8-year-old will get any culinary ideas of his own.

In the end How to Eat Fried Worms delivers nothing more or less than the title promises. It gives us a taste of an idyllic, leafy suburban world in which kids can be kids, and the most scary thing you’ll have to face is the idea of eating a cooked worm. This is escapism, sure, but I’ll take it over sarcasm any day.

- Alistair Fairweather
How to Eat Fried Worms is the kind of messy, good-natured film that brings out the kid in all of us.

john 2006/09/28 5:41 PM
garfieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeld 2 EXELENT
Cynthia 2006/10/18 11:40 PM
How to eat fried worms iz........ How to eat fried worms is a HOTT! And as for the boy that had to eat the fried worms was brave & also Cool! And the bully i know your not mean in real life ?right? well any ways i how you aren't. And that girl she's really cute and her personality is cool too (i can tell by just watching the movie! Also the little boy (4 year old?) he was really funny we said something in the movie about his private?!? well thats all i had to say, HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS is my favorite movie now yup #1 Im for sure buying it!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Cayleigh 2007/05/09 7:15 PM
How to eat fried worms Great movie. Very funny. Boys are strange..
Shannon 2007/07/25 5:13 PM
It was finominal! This movie is awesome, we watched about 70 million times. We are doing a play on it.
Shannon 2007/07/25 5:14 PM
It was finominal! This movie is awesome, we watched about 70 million times. We are doing a play on it.
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