Deviating little from the previous incarnation of Jeff Kinney’s popular book series, this year’s entry plays out like a cross between a sitcom from the defunct TGIF lineup and a Farrelly brothers comedy for tweens.
Heading back to middle school for the seventh grade, Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) and his brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) find themselves dealing with their mother’s attempts to get them to bond. Along the way, Greg develops a crush on the new girl in class, deals with his misfit group of friends, and learns the benefits of brotherly love.
Mercifully moving away from Greg’s runaway ego that was the focus of the first film, this version doesn’t exactly break the mold of the first film as much as bend it. Greg’s friends are relegated to ancillary roles as the relationship with his brother is pushed to the forefront. The only other character returning from the first film that has any significant purpose is Rowley (Robert Capron), who reprises his role as the squeaky-clean straight man to Greg’s slapstick “risqué” behavior.
Part of the failure of the film is the insistence on timidity when presenting so-called mischievous behavior. Even keeping in mind the target audience, Disney has taken bigger risks in pushing the envelope. Taking that into account with the disjointed, episodic writing style, the film feels wilted and the jokes don’t always work in the vanilla-pudding context.
Gordon does a good job portraying a youth constantly embarrassed and harassed, while suffering it all with dignity. The main actors have all primarily worked on television and it shows several times in the… all right, you know what? I can’t do this. Time to call in reinforcements.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present a guest reviewer—my good friend Jess’ 8-year-old son Michael.
The Dagger: Michael, welcome to your first movie review. How do you feel about being published?
Michael: What does published mean?
D: It means that I’m going to write down what you think about the movie and other people are going to read it and decide if they want to go see the movie. Pretty cool, huh?
D: Glad you are excited. So do you think people should go see the movie?
D: Insightful. Give me something to work with here, spud. So why should people see the movie?
M: (giggles) Because it was funny and the boy was always getting in trouble.
D: Sounds like someone else I know. (stares at Michael) What was the funniest part?
M: (giggles) The part where the guy goes to the bridge and was like let me ask you a question and he goes whaaa-eeeee!
D: That isn’t even from this movie. That’s “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
D: What was the funniest part of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid?”
M: Can we watch Monty Python?
D: It is a good thing I like you, ‘cause otherwise… (shakes fist) Focus, child. You know what my favorite part was?
M: No. What?
D: When they were at the magic show at the end and the bird pooped on their heads.
M: Yeah and they were like, “Oh no I got poop on my head!”
D: Pretty funny.
M: Yeah and when the kid was like, “you want to see my freckle?” and it had a hair in it.
D: That was pretty good too. So overall you liked the film and you think kids should go see it?
D: What do you think your friends are going to say when they find out you got to review a movie for the news?
M: Are you going to have a picture so they can see me?
D: I can.
D: Cool indeed. You’ll have to tell all your friends you are going to be in the news like The Aegis.
M: What’s The Aegis?
D: We’re all asking ourselves that.
D: Nothing. Anything else you think the people should know about the movie?
M: It’s funny and they should go see it.
D: Thanks bud. I’ll get a picture so everyone knows it’s you.
“See It/ Rent It/ Skip It”: Michael says: See it. Mark says: That face says it all.
TWO AND A HALF STARS out of four.
Directed by David Bowers. Written by Gabe Sachs & Jeff Judah (screenplay). Jeff Kinney (book).
Rated PG for some mild rude humor and mischief.
Runtime: 1 hour, 36 min