Judy Blume Forever
April 21st, 2023
MOVIE: JUDY BLUME FOREVER
STARRING: JUDY BLUME, MOLLY RINGWALD, SAMANTHA BEE
DIRECTED BY: DAVINA PARDO, LEAH WOLCHOK
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
I wasn’t a big reader of Judy Blume’s books but they were always around. I loved the Fudge series and read those but that’s about it. But no matter if it was junior high, high school, or college, I saw a Judy Blume book in the library, or on someone’s desk, or in a backpack. She was without a doubt a popular and well-known author for my early childhood times and now that I’ve seen Judy Blume Forever, I never knew how important her writing truly was. For a sports nut such as myself, my reading consisted of books on Michael Jordan or Sports Illustrated for Kids, but for young girls the writing of Judy Blume has had a massive impact. What Judy Blume Forever does is capture just how important, just how impactful the work of one author can be to people all over the world. It starts with a book and it connects everyone, because reading is universal, and Judy Blume lasts Forever…
As far as documentaries go, Judy Blume Forever is standard, featuring talking heads and a front-to-back telling of Blume’s life. Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in a middle-class Jewish family, from humble beginnings to becoming a world-renowned author. What directors Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok succeed at is making a documentary with an arch, her marriage, divorce, and family, and introducing the world to a side of Blume that many may not know. What I picked up immediately is that this isn’t an author that has done the writing because it has led to fame but because she is genuinely passionate about the profession. If Blume had stayed in the box that the world was trying to keep her in we would have been deprived of a brilliant voice.
Her writing career began in 1969 with The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo and her success exploded with Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. The fact about Blume’s work is that it never talks down or condescends to children and this documentary highlights that. Blume has been unafraid of writing about the subject matter on things such as women’s menstrual cycles, masturbation, and teenage sex. It’s in the conversations in the documentary, including people that have corresponded with Blume through letters, exactly how important her writing has been to many. It becomes incredibly emotional, hearing stories of others, how Blume’s words helped them cope with abuse, awkward phases in puberty, and subjects that kids just can’t breach with their own parents. One hopes that Judy Blume Forever will inspire parents to read her work or just listen more to their children. Life is hard enough and Blume has taught us that we shouldn’t make it harder for our kids.
The second half of the doc digs into the painfully current nature of how Blume’s books have been banned by those on the right that would deem them to be too radical for children. Pardo and Wolchok, along with the millions of books sold, make a convincing argument that banning books is the opposite of what should be done. What Blume’s work does is not corrupt but in many ways gives a guide, a voice, and pieces of literature that empathize with what it means to be a kid with a changing body. What is proven is that the world needs more writers like Judy Blume and no book about race, gender identity, LGBTQ history, or being a teenager should ever be banned.
If the goal of Judy Blume Forever was to inspire us to fight against book banning or just to pick up a copy of Freckle Juice then it’s a success. But what it really does is hit you right at the center of your heart. The stories that are told have great emotional resonance and Blume has never stopped being a light to guide her readers. Judy Blume Forever captures just how special a person the author truly is and is a reminder that the most powerful thing someone can do is read a book. Hard not to be forever grateful for Judy Blume.
JUDY BLUME FOREVER IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS AND AVAILABLE ON AMAZON PRIME FRIDAY APRIL 21ST, 2023.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady