Loved the previous three and had to purchase this latest one. I hadn't known the family (+ Roderick) was replaced by other actors. I guess they outgrew their roles. Once I got over my disappointment I enjoyed the film. I suppose we couldn't have the same Greg forever. I missed Steve Zahn as the father, but I think it would have been weird if the kids were different from what we'd known but the parents stayed the same. The father was pretty much a neutral character. The mother was great, and I thought she was very pretty. It was only during the closing credits that I saw she was played by Alicia Silverstone. The new Greg is very similar to the usual one in looks and in acting, and the older brother was not missed with the replacement. If they had to do this to give us more 'Wimpy Kid' movies, then so be it.
In this film, Greg is 12 and his brother is 16. Little Manny, the baby of the family, is about 3. Mom wants to do a family road trip to Grandma's birthday party in Indiana. Her attempts to make the family closer seem to go astray. At the start they stop at a burger joint that caters to kids, and Manny gets stuck in a tube of the play place. Greg must go in and the scene is a trip and a half. He winds up sliding into a bunch of balls and in his search for Manny digs down and comes up with something that has everyone in the place taking his picture, and Greg goes viral. Greg makes an enemy of a huge man who turns up here and there along the way. (The scene where he catches Greg in his motel shower was done ala 'Psycho'. I liked that touch.) Manny wins an unwelcome prize at a fair. Greg causes seagulls to attack their van ala 'The Birds' (I liked that. With all those birds around, why not?) And through a series of small adventures they finally reach Grandma's in a most unusual way. Thanks to cast and crew for turning out a good, solid 'Wimpy Kid' movie. I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 out of loyalty to the original family. They are missed. And this film wasn't "great". It was Good, and it delivered what it needed to.