Luke Benward as Billy
Hallie Kate Eisenberg as Erika
Adam Hicks as Joe
Austin Rogers as Adam
Alexander Gould as Twitch
Ryan Malgarini as Benjy
Philip Bolden as Bradley
Clint Howard as Uncle Ed
Ty Panitz as Woody
James Rebhorn as Principal “Boiler Head” Burdock
Tom Cavanagh as Dad
Kimberly Williams as Mom
Andrew Gillingham as Techno Mouth
Blake Garrett as Plug
Alexander Agate as Donny
“How to Eat Fried Worms” is a fun adaptation of the classic children’s novel. The gross-out humor is sure to please elementary-aged children, but adults probably won’t be nearly as entertained.
“How to Eat Fried Worms” is based on the 1973 book by Thomas Rockwell (son of artist Norman Rockwell).
Billy is the new kid in town and he finds that he has a hard time fitting in. This becomes especially so when he becomes the target of a bully named Joe. After being nicknamed “Worm Boy” by Joe and his goons, Billy makes a bold move. He bets Joe that he can eat 10 worms in one day. The loser of the bet must walk down the school hallway with their pants filled with worms. While this isn’t an especially well thought out plan, it’s even worse since Billy has a sensitive stomach. He soon finds himself the focus of the school as he accepts the challenge. Unfortunately, Joe and his buddies aren’t going to let Billy off the hook easily they serve him the worms in especially vile concoctions that would turn even the strongest of stomachs.
“How to Eat Fried Worms” is rated PG for mild bullying and some crude humor.
I read “How to Eat Fried Worms” when I was a kid, so it was pretty cool to see it adapted for the big screen. The setting has been changed to modern times, but otherwise the core story is there just as I remembered it. I also got a big kick out of taking my 4-year-old son who was experiencing it for the first time. It was especially satisfying seeing him cringe and scream as Billy ate the worms. In fact, the entire audience was screaming throughout the movie both young and old. That alone makes it a fun experience.
While the boys do fine jobs with their performances, I was surprised to see some of the secondary characters more than holding their own. Tom Cavanagh as Dad and Kimberly Williams as Mom were both quite funny. They didn’t play the ‘moronic adults’ like you typically see in kids movies, but they weren’t perfect either. In their own way, they deal with fitting in as well. But the real scene stealer is Ty Panitz as Woody, Billy’s little brother who tags along during the challenge. In every scene he’s doing some sort of random act like spitting on ants, singing a sea turtle song, picking his nose, or needing to poop at inopportune times. It particularly cracked me up.
What Didn’t Work:
“How to Eat Fried Worms” does spend a little time on humor for the adults, but this movie is squarely targeted at elementary school aged children. And though it more than adequately entertains its target audience, adults probably aren’t going to be nearly as entertained. That’s usually what separates decent family movies from great ones. As much fun as I had watching my kid enjoy it, I found myself frequently checking my watch. The film is “Fear Factor for Kids” for 75% of the movie and hokey “After School Special” for the remaining 25%.
The Bottom Line:
If you have 1st through 5th Grade boys, this movie is perfect for them. It has gross-out humor and a good lesson. But keep in mind that you, as the adult, aren’t the target audience.