Australian Council on Children and the Media

How to Eat Fried Worms

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Short takes

PG under 13 (themes).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for How to Eat Fried Worms
  • a review of How to Eat Fried Worms completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 March 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Parental Guidance recommended (themes and scenes involving the killing and eating of worms).
Children over the age of 13 Children over 13 years could watch this movie with or without parental guidance

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: How to Eat Fried Worms
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length 84 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

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 and 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”.

In order to stand up to the school bully Billy, who is renowned for his weak stomach, agrees to a bet that he can eat ten fried worms within one day.  Many entertaining messy adventures and ‘gross’ incidents of worm eating follow as Billy struggles to complete the task set out for him.

Billy’s only support is provided by Erika (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) who offers him help during his first day at school.  Billy at times takes Erika’s 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 whether to stand up for himself and his true friends or to give up and let the bully win.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Bullying; Killing and eating living creatures

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • There is bullying throughout the movie, including verbal taunts made by the school bully Joe Guire towards Billy and other children throughout the school who don’t do what he says.  Additionally, Joe Guire is bullied by his older brother at two points within the movie.
  • There are multiple scenes depicting the killing, cooking and eating of worms.  Billy agrees to a dare that sees him having to eat 10 worms in one day and throughout the day the worms are seen being fried, micro-waved, mashed or eaten alive. 
  • Joe, the school bully, wears a ring that is said to be a ‘death ring’.  School yard legend states that if punched by the ring you will be injected with poison that will kill you once you reach grade 8, so that the culprit can never be traced.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Some children in this age group may be disturbed by the appearance of the live worms and the subsequent eating and/or killing of the worms. Parents may also be concerned that children may imitate some of the behaviour seen.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in the film.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Mayflower Moving Company
  • Dell Computers
  • Konami Video Games
  • Heinz
  • Diet Coke
  • Florida Juice

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Woody (Billy’s younger brother) makes a reference to his penis by stating “dilly dink is my penis”

Nudity and sexual activity

None

Use of substances

None

Coarse language

There is no course language in this movie but there is same mild name calling such as “big giant” and “you’re a joke”

In a nutshell

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, as the movie reflects the common place issues that many young people find themselves in during their own school lives. The main messages from this movie are that you should stick by your friends and stand up to bullies.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Friendship
  • Kindness
  • Forgiveness
  • Loyalty

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the real-life consequences of peer pressure and bullying and how to deal with these.

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