Review by Sean Boelman
As the film adaptation of one of her most famous books, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. is hitting theaters, Prime Video is putting out a documentary about the legendary writer Judy Blume. Judy Blume Forever is a relatively standard documentary, but for those who grew up reading her books, it’s still pretty delightful.
The movie tells the story of the iconic author Blume, whose iconic works explored the experience of puberty and adolescence with unprecedented and since unparalleled frankness. As one would expect, the film dives into both the praise and controversy that Blume received, painting a broad picture of her cultural impact.
In terms of the execution, the movie is about what one would expect from a modern biographical documentary — flashy and kinetic, with a level of energy that is designed to help the movie cover up its flaws. The film combines talking head interviews with archive materials and occasional animation that doesn’t add much to the story but does imbue it with a bit of added charm.
The thing that really makes this stand out from many other bio-docs is that it is genuinely funny. Ultimately, fans would expect no less given the generally very funny nature of Blume’s writing and that so many of the most iconic portions of her work are read as part of the interviews. At times, the nostalgia begins to feel a bit overwhelming, but it’s unlikely that any viewer won’t share in that nostalgia.
One of the things that is frustrating about the movie is that — despite Blume’s massive cultural footprint — the film doesn’t seem to trust the audience to know she is important. It feels like too much of the movie is spent reminding us of the impact she had, rather than discussing why she had such an impact on so many people.
That being said, the more interesting moments in the film come from Blume telling her own story and giving her own worldview. The octogenarian is still going strong and is as opinionated yet charming as ever. Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok know that they have an absolute gem in their subject, and they take full advantage of that opportunity when they can.
Obviously, there is an element of timeliness to the movie now given the amount of censorship that is happening in our society right now. This was something that Blume’s work faced a decent amount of when it was published due to its frank approach to its themes, and shockingly, many lawmakers are still trying to speak out against her work. Thankfully, Blume is very passionate about this topic, and talks about it at length — both with regards to her own work and literature at large.
Judy Blume Forever doesn’t add anything particularly new to the conversation about Blume’s work, but when it lets us hear from the author herself, it’s a really fascinating watch. There’s some interesting stuff here about our current societal situation, but it’s mostly just a standard, if well-made biographical documentary.
Judy Blume Forever streams on Prime Video beginning April 21.