Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer - Heather Graham and Jordana Beatty
Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) and Judy (Jordana Beatty) © 2011 Judy Moody Productions, Photo by Suzanne Tenner

Based on the bestselling book series by Megan McDonald, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer now comes to the big screen.

This summer, Judy Moody (Australian actress Jordana Beatty) is planning the most super-duper, double-rare vacation with her best friends Rocky and Amy, except that it turns out Rocky is going to a circus camp and Amy is off to Boreno with her mother to save a lost tribe, leaving poor Judy stuck at home.

Just when she thinks things are as bad as they can get, her parents have to go to California leaving Judy behind with her eccentric Aunt Opal (Heather Graham), whom she’s never even met. But with the help of Opal, Judy is about to have a summer full of surprises.

Jordana Beatty and Heather Graham spoke about their new movie at the press day for the film.

There’s a boldness about Judy; are you naturally more gregarious or are you shy?

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer - Jordana Beatty
Judy (Jordana Beatty) © 2011 Judy Moody Productions

Jordana: I would say I’m like Judy Moody, I’m definitely not shy but I wouldn’t say I’m exactly like her because we live in two different parts of the planet, and she has a very different lifestyle than me. But we’re still very much alike in that adventurous seeking kind of way.

Judy is a fun-loving person who always has a plan and so am I. Once she gets an idea, she sticks to it, and she won’t stop until she gets it done. Most of the time, her plans don’t go the way she wants them to, but afterwards she realizes she’s had a good time anyway.

We have the same hair color. And we both have collections. I collect business cards, Japanese erasers that look like food, and I also have a big collection of books. I started a collection of hotel and restaurant mints, but then I ate them!

You’re an Australian; did you find it hard to do the American accent?

Jordana: The dialect coach made it really fun. Before long, I found it really easy to talk in an American accent. Now, whenever I’m around Americans, it seems natural (she says in an American accent!).

Heather, what interested you in doing this film?

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer - Heather Graham
Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) © 2011 Judy Moody Productions, Photo by Suzanne Tenner

Heather: It’s cool to do a movie that kids will see. It’s kind of exciting. I think Sarah Siegel-Magness is a cool producer, because she did Precious. She does female driven stories, so that’s kind of a rarity.

I feel like this is a cool movie for little girls to watch and see this heroic, adventurous little girl, or the cool aunt, and feel inspired.

You call your character a ‘guerilla artist.’

Heather: They did an amazing job with the art my character creates. It’s a metaphor for taking what life gives you and making it into something beautiful. Aunt Opal is a really free spirit and somewhat childlike, so she relates to Judy and wants to be a mentor.

It’s also fun to be the cool aunt. Do you have somebody in real life to be an aunt to?

Heather: I do. I have these two kids who are my best friend’s little girls that are coming to the premiere tomorrow, but I’m their cool aunt. I think I’m cool. I get to play fun games with them. I take them sometimes on vacations and we all go to the beach together.

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer - Parris Mosteller, Jordana Beatty and Preston Bailey
Stink (Parris Mosteller), Judy (Jordana Beatty) and Frank (Preston Bailey) © 2011 Judy Moody Productions

I also sponsor these kids with this charity, the Cambodian Children’s Fund, so I’m excited that I’m the cool sponsor who did a kids’ film. I can’t wait to send it to them.

Do you think there’s a little Judy Moody in every girl?

Jordana: Yes, definitely. Everyone has an adventurous side.

Is there any special summer that you considered ‘Thrilltastic’?

Jordana: Probably just going down to my grandparents’ holiday house. It’s very tiny and my cousins and I all fit in there. It’s so fun and so cozy, especially in the winter. But summer is the best, because we can just go down to the lake and swim all day. That’s the best part of summer.

You’re in almost every frame of the movie, Jordana. I sure there wasn’t a day of shooting that you were involved in. Did you ever have the sense that the movie was all on your shoulders?

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer - Heather Graham and Jordana Beatty
Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) and Judy (Jordana Beatty) © 2011 Judy Moody Productions

Jordana: Sort of, but because all the other co-stars are great to work with and we always had so much fun, being on set every day made it so much better than just being by yourself.

Even though I had some scenes by myself, I always enjoyed it more when other people were on set with me.

What was it like working with the kids on this?

Heather: The kids are the stars, so it was beautiful chaos on the set. And John (Schultz) as a director is so playful and mischievous. I mentioned to him how joyful it is to dance with my best friend’s kids and he got the entire crew to go out and freeze dance. I think that expresses what it was like to work on this film, because it was fun and lighthearted.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.