Diary of a Wimpy Kid
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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
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The main character in this film is Greg Heffley, just entering 7th grade with high hopes of rising rapidly to be one of the most popular students. Alas, his dreams seem threatened by his un-cool friend Rowley, and every avenue he tries to gain attention and popularity seems to be thwarted. At first Rowley always seems to be the problem, or perhaps the even more nerdy Fregley, or…or well, ultimately he has to face the fact—HE is the problem. He’s so intent on gaining popularity via superficiality that he has become his own worst enemy—and one lousy friend.
In short this is a charming little film focused on a middle-school crowd (and with action and dialog that parents should not find objectionable). Even better—it does not look for laughs by making the parents seem like idiots. In fact the parents, teachers and other school staff come across as both reasonable and concerned, but unfortunately as with all of us, not able to live kids’ lives for them. So ultimately it’s up to Heffley himself to realize that he’s his own worst enemy. To put it in the more adult terms I once heard a comedian use in his act: you know that horrible blind date you ended up with one time? I realized—I AM that horrible blind date! Other lessons along the way naturally include not putting others down based on appearances, and that the best way to be liked is to genuinely like other people of all types. It imparts all these lessons with plenty of comedy along with the requisite seriousness, so it looks enjoyable to a wide audience. In fact it's unclear to me why its rating is even PG; it seemed more G to me, but regardless it's a film that older kids in particular and their parents may enjoy watching together. I recommend it.
The acting by the other kids in this movie was good and not over the top cheesy like in some of those Disney channel tween shows. There was a fair amount of grossness that boys will love. My six and eight year old boys thought this movie was hilarious and were riveted by it. My attention started to wane for the last half of the movie, probably because having read the book, I already knew what was going to happen. Even though it wasn't my cup of tea, it was a great way to keep my boys entertained on a snowy afternoon.
I am far older than the intended audience, yet even I found it entertaining. In a PG way, of course. People in the target audience should (unless they are being too "grown-up" on principle) find it quite entertaining.
I found the protagonist a bit of a pill, and I certainly would not want to have him as a friend. Or, in kindergarten, anywhere in my vicinity. And how many films have a Slice of Cheese as an important supporting character?