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Friday, August 25, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"How to Eat Fried Worms": Dare ya to think like a 10-year-old boy

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2.5 stars


Showtimes and trailer

"How to Eat Fried Worms," with Luke Benward, Adam Hicks, Tom Cavanagh, Kimberly Williams, Hallie Kate Eisenberg. Written and directed by Bob Dolman, based on the book by Thomas Rockwell. 98 minutes. Rated PG for mild bullying and some crude humor. Several theaters.

Take the kids to see "How to Eat Fried Worms," but hold off on forking over the usual princely sum at the concession stand.

It's hard to imagine much munching of buttery popcorn or candy going on while anyone's watching long, brown worms get deep-fried in lard, mixed into an omelet or blended with broccoli and herbs into a slimy, green goo. (No real worms were harmed.)

The repulsive rituals of boys are the subject of this film, a nauseating (you know, in a good way) new comedy based on a 1973 book by Thomas Rockwell and directed by Bob Dolman, former "SCTV" writer.

"How to Eat Fried Worms" may be instructive about such important matters as the proper amount of time it takes for an invertebrate to explode in a microwave oven. But it's also about such universal subjects as male pride at a tender age — the way one well-meaning, regular kid can back into a stupid challenge while another kid, bullied at home, deflects his anger toward weaker children.

Billy (Luke Benward), a new student at school, soon faces harassment from fellow fifth-grader Joe (Adam Hicks). An altercation during lunch leads Billy to brag that he can eat worms all day.

Joe pressures him into agreeing to eat 10 worms. Billy considers backing out, but he knows if he does he'll become like one of the faceless guys who either avoids or fawns over Joe forever.

So, on the appointed day, Billy samples spontaneous worm cuisine from various kitchens. The longer he hangs in there, the more Joe's reputation suffers. In the end, the two boys have to talk to one another like real human beings.

Tom Cavanagh ("Scrubs") and Kimberly Williams ("Father of the Bride") mostly fill space as Billy's parents. Hallie Kate Eisenberg, however, provides the helpful perspective of a maturing girl regarding Billy's dilemma.

Tom Keogh: tomwkeogh@yahoo.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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