How to Eat Fried Worms is a feature film adaptation of Thomas Rockwell’s award winning book that was published in 1973. Since then, nearly three million copies of the children’s book have been sold worldwide.
The story begins when Mitch Forrester (Tom Cavanagh) and his wife, Helen (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) move to a new town with their two sons, Billy (Luke Benward) and Woody (Ty Panitz). Eleven year old Billy has a difficult transition in his new surroundings. The town bully, Joe Guire (Adam Hicks) gives Billy a hard time on the first day of school. They have a confrontation and Billy tries to save face by betting he can eat ten worms in one day. Just the thought of it makes his stomach churn, but it might get him respect and admiration from the other kids. Will he be able to do it? It all depends on if he can muster up enough strength and courage to meet the challenge of Joe and his gang. Before the day is over, all of the kids will learn the true meaning of friendship and the importance of doing the right thing in a difficult situation.
Mitch has to deal with his own share of problems at work. Trying to fit in can be difficult for adults too. Mitch, like his son, learns a valuable lesson about acceptance and fitting in with a new group of people. Cavanagh hopes his role in the film will help kids realize that they are not alone when it comes to insecurities and the need to fit in.
He said, “We were hoping to show the kids, ‘Look, here is an adult and he is mucking it up too. He’s having difficulty.’ Sometimes I think kids think adults know how to do everything all the time. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
How to Eat Fried Worms shows how anyone can become an outsider by no fault of their own. It’s the way a person deals with the situation that makes the difference.
Cavanagh said, “One of the things we are trying to do with this movie is hopefully this will translate where it’s kind of like, you know what, anybody can be an outsider. You just put yourself in a different situation and suddenly there you are–an outsider. It’s not easy for anybody. It’s not easy for adults. It’s not easy for kids. One of the things we were trying to show the kids was, ‘Listen, you are not an outsider because you are eleven. You are an outsider because sometimes you just happen to be the outsider. It’s not the end of the world. There’s ways around it. One of the ways around it is to jump in with the new gang and see how that goes, as opposed to trying to keep yourself on the outside.'”