How to Eat Fried Worms is based on the Thomas Rockwell book of the same name, published in 1973. It is the story of 11-year-old Billy (Luke Benward), who moves to a new town with his family. Billy finds the transition difficult. On his first day at school, he has a run-in with the school bully, Joe Guire (Adam Hicks). Joe and his gang set their sights on Billy and begin tormenting him by putting worms in his lunch and calling him ‘worm boy’.
To stand up to the school bully, Billy makes a bet that he can eat 10 fried worms in one day, even though he is renowned for his weak stomach. Many entertaining messy adventures and ‘gross’ incidents of worm-eating follow as Billy struggles to complete the task.
Erika (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) is the only person who offers Billy support on his first day at the school. Billy sometimes takes her support for granted, particularly when it puts him in the firing line of further taunts from Joe and his gang. Billy has to make a tough decision. He must decide whether to stand up for himself and his true friends or to give up and let the bully win.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Bullying; killing and eating living creatures
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
- Many scenes of bullying occur throughout the movie. For example, the school bully Joe Guire verbally taunts Billy and other school children who defy his wishes. Two scenes in the movie also show Joe Guire bullied by his older brother.
- There are many scenes depicting the killing, cooking and eating of worms. To fullfill a dare to eat 10 worms in one day, Billy fries, microwaves, mashes and also eats live worms.
- Joe, the school bully, wears a ring that is said to be a ‘death ring’. Schoolyard legend states that if you are punched by the ring, you will be injected with poison that will kill you when you reach grade 8, so that the culprit can never be traced.
Content that may disturb children
Some children in this age group could be disturbed by the appearance of live worms and the subsequent eating and killing of the worms. Parents might also be concerned that children may imitate some of the unacceptable behaviour.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in the film.
There are some sexual references in this movie, including a scene where Woody (Billy’s younger brother) makes a reference to his penis. He says, ‘Dilly dink is my penis’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Mayflower Moving Company, Dell Computers, Konami Video Games, Heinz, Diet Coke and Florida Juice.
Although this movie contains no coarse language, it does include some mild name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
How to Eat Fried Worms is a movie made for children and includes ‘gross’ scenes and peculiar situations that are most likely to be enjoyed by younger viewers. Children will relate to many of the characters and the dilemmas they face. This is because the movie reflects typical issues that many young people encounter during their own school lives. The main messages from this movie are that you should stick by your friends and stand up to bullies.