The hysterically funny, best-selling book comes to life in this smash-hit family comedy! Greg Heffley is headed for big things, but first he has to survive the scariest, most humiliating experience of any kid’s life – middle school! That won’t be easy, considering he’s surrounded by hairy-freckled morons, wedgie-loving bullies and a moldy slice of cheese with nuclear cooties!
The first volume in Jeff Kinney's wildly popular Web and book series hits the screen in this live-action adaptation. The impish Zachary Gordon, who recalls Wonder Years
-era Fred Savage, plays Greg Heffley, who enters middle school determined to become class favorite. It won't be easy. His best friend, Rowley (the sweetly funny Robert Capron), is a big, redheaded lug who embarrasses him at every turn. Greg's obnoxious teenage brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), advises him to keep his head down, but Greg believes he needs to excel at something to achieve his goal. Smart, but small for his age, he tries wrestling and safety patrolling, but nothing seems to fit. During gym class, he and Rowley meet wise-beyond-her-years newspaper reporter Angie (Chloë Moretz, (500) Days of Summer
), who finds popularity overrated. Greg isn't convinced, but the harder he tries, the more boorish he becomes, until even Rowley abandons him. After a humiliating encounter with some high school bullies, though, Greg learns what really matters: self-respect (he also discovers that the dreaded "cheese touch" is just a myth). Berlin-born director Thor Freudenthal (Hotel for Dogs
) avoids any dull or sentimental patches, which should please kids and adults alike (an upbeat modern-rock soundtrack doesn't hurt). Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn could use more face time as the terminally un-cool Heffley parents, but Harris's rhythm-impaired moves at the mother-son dance provide one of the best laughs. Kinney fans will also appreciate the way Freudenthal weaves stick-figure drawings from Greg's journal throughout this zippy entertainment. --Kathleen C. Fennessy