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Notes from the back row

Good, old fashioned juvenile entertainment

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The awesomeness of it all might be a bit diminished on contemporary society’s children, those who’ve grown up with devil shit like Fear Factor being pumped into their developing minds every day, but How to Eat Fried Worms was a classic children’s novel back in my day and I’m happy to finally see it jump to the big screen, opening this week at Whistler’s best and only theatre, the good old Village 8.

As the new kid in school, Grade 5 to be precise, Billy is almost instantly targeted by class bully Joe and to settle a cafeteria skirmish he ends up betting he can eat 10 worms in a day. Since his parents are off dealing with their own new-to-town problems Billy, and his weak stomach, are forced to face this battle alone. Well almost alone, his one friend is a tall dimpled girl named Erika, who not only gives him the balls to carry on but also steals the movie as far as acting goes. Joe and his cronies concoct the most vile, worm-based dishes imaginable and somehow Billy manages to choke them down, learning a bit about courage, friendship, and loyalty in the process.

This is an old-school style film, relying on the "ew gross" factor that 10-year-old boys seem to be the only true fans of. Not-stoned parents and girls might find it all a bit lacking but you can bet that after this picture hits DVD mothers everywhere will be cleaning worm guts out of their microwaves while little terrors run amuck singing that old sweet song, "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me. I think I’ll go eat some worms…"

Sticking with the juvenile theme we have Beerfest , the latest attempt from the Broken Lizard comedy troup, the guys who nailed it with SuperTroopers , and have never come close to duplicating that glory. We’re not talking high concept here – two guys travel to Germany to spread their grandfather’s ashes, stumble onto a secret underground binge-drinking contest, (while also discovering their grandma’s a whore) and go back to the States to assemble a team for next year. It’s not as funny as it wants to be (the Lizards need to work on joke pacing) but still good for a few stupid chuckles, and you know this will be a frat-house classic for cheese-dick college kids and wannabe alcoholics.

Speaking of college, Accepted is still running, about a guy who gets rejected by all the universities he applies to so, rather than upset his parents, he starts his own post-secondary establishment, with such great classes as "skepticism" or "blowing shit up with your mind." Needless to say the school’s a hit, while the movie, despite up-and-coming stars Justin Long and Blake Lively, isn’t. It recycles from most every other college/high school movie out there but if you’ve already seen the excellent Snakes on a Plane and are looking for some light entertainment Accepted will (barely) pass.

If you’re into passing, as in long bombs or shotguns, brace yourself for yet another based-on-a-true story, underdog football movie – Invincible. Starring Mark Wahlberg as a loser-magnet who gets the chance of a lifetime- to try-out and play with the dismal 1976 Philadelphia Eagles (for one game.) This is a tear-jerking chick flick for the Beerfest crowd and although it’s little more than a cliché-ridden dryhump of the same rehashed sports story we’ve seen two million times Disney will probably have a hit with this one because contemporary movie-goers embrace stories they’ve already seen (less thinking) and hey, who doesn’t love an underdog?

" Everybody hates me, nobody likes me…."

AT VILLAGE 8 Aug. 25-31: How to Eat Fried Worms; Invincible; Beefest; Talladega Nights; Accepted; Step Up; Snakes on a Plane; World Trade Center.

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