Judy Blume Forever is a loving tribute to one of the quintessential authors.
Published on May 11, 2023
Rating 4 /5
Judy Blume is one of those authors whom you have probably seen have her tables grace the “banned books” tables at the bookstore. While her work was not quite as explosive as George Orwell's or Toni Morrison's controversial works, she was still a prolific figure simply for her range and willingness to write about anything. This could be anything from the relatable silliness of the kid-friendly Superfudge to the gender-challenging aspects of Wifey. She was one of those authors that always seemed to write with great honesty and relatability, crossing age gaps as much as she crossed barriers that aggravated those who wanted clean and conforming novels.
Judy Blume Forever documents Judy’s legacy and fandom, allowing the author to expand upon her work in her own words. She lays bare her own history that formed much of the foundation for the books that she wrote. Some of her inspiration was immediate, as with her deteriorating marriage. Some of it came later in life, as when Judy had to deal with her father's death at a young age. Judy also reads a few meaningful passages from her books that hit her hard at several points. During one particular reading, she nearly breaks down in tears but soldiers on because her story needs to be told.
The necessity of Judy’s work is communicated by the many fans that voice their praises in the various interviews. Top female celebrities like Lena Dunham, Anna Konkle, Molly Ringwald, and Samantha Bee speak highly of her inspirational works. They speak of their favorite books, how their worldviews were altered, and relating to the characters. Ringwald, in particular, points out the relatable nature of the haircuts. In addition to the celebrity fans, a handful of authors who have ended up on banned book lists also appear in the picture. Their interviews are easily essential for highlighting how Blume’s work not only inspired them to write but continued to push boundaries.
Like most biographical documentaries, this film comes loaded with archival footage of Blume’s many TV appearances and televised book reviews. She’s interviewed by reporters who are fascinated that Blume was able to reach back into her childhood and recall so much that she could display relatability in her work. Anybody who has read the Fudge books can attest to how much themselves they can see in that playful and earnest writing. Perhaps the fascinating piece of TV footage is when Blume went on television for a discussion with the politician Pat Buchanon, who was so hung up on Judy briefly writing about masturbation that she just had to question his obsession. It’s remarkable how Judy maintained a grin and straight face amid this critical conservative who represented everything Blume’s work was rallying against.
But that’s what makes this author so enduring. She seems chipper about life despite all her problems and the society she struggled against with releasing her books. Judy’s life is one of great support, where her children became inspiration (but never fully emulated in her work), and her editor stood by her decisions involving cursing and sex. She treated previously taboo subjects with an open nature, where her opening reading about teenagers admitting to masturbation is read with a big grin of feeling easy about letting out the tension of repression. By the end of the film, Judy brings up how she likes to bring up her old age but that she doesn’t feel that old. The spark never left her eyes.
Judy Blume Forever is a loving tribute to one of the quintessential authors. Her work has only grown more relevant over time it should be just as revered as the best of the banned books. Don’t be surprised if this film inspires you to visit the library and check out some of her classics.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.