Funny, Realistic and Appealing
Are there any youngsters who have not heard about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series? Probably only a few. Ever since author Jeff Kinney released the first book, hosts of kids have eagerly sought out each new addition. The series has already sold 28 million books, and now the first one of Kinney’s books has hit the big screen.
Pre-teen Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is facing his worst nightmare -- middle school. He could appreciate his big brother Rodrick’s (Devon Bostick) sound advice concerning what not to do, but Rodrick is also the one who wakes him up on Sunday morning telling him he’s late for school -- and is part of a weird rock band.
While Greg starts to put his thoughts and problems down in a diary his mother gave him, he’s not approaching the new school year alone. His best friend Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron) is in the same boat. However, within the first few days at school, Greg realizes Rowley is considered a real geek among his classmates. Still, Greg hangs in there with Rowley, and the two soon find that no one wants this pair sitting next to them at lunch.
Outsiders looking at this situation probably realize that all the kids in middle school are somewhat like geeks. For example, at Greg’s school there’s a moldy piece of cheese on the blacktop which everyone avoids like the plague. If someone accidentally touches it, he must touch another classmate to get rid of the curse.
The more Greg and Rowley try to fit in, the more they stand out as misfits. Rowley doesn’t feel this, but Greg does. Greg pulls out his brother’s yearbook and looks at who was most popular and sets out to mimic those students. He decides to dress up in a shirt and tie, only he doesn’t realize Rowley does it too; so they both get laughed at. They join the Safety Patrol to earn some positive attention, but it backfires when Rowley gets in trouble for a misdeed that Greg did. Once the truth comes out, Rowley decides Greg is not his true friend.
Greg’s last resort involves competing to do cartoons for the newspaper. When Rowley’s cartoon is selected instead, Greg can only stand by and watch Rowley become popular while kids still make fun of him.
There are many funny moments causing children in the audience to laugh out loud during this movie. But there’s also an undercurrent of other positive elements. Middle school seems to be the most difficult years for students, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid brings a lot of these situations to life without making them appear as life-and-death situations. Greg never stops pursuing his goal to be popular and continues to keep up his journal so someday he can advise others of these problems.
The movie boasts a great cast. Gordon is perfect as the misfit trying to find his own place, but getting up every time he’s knocked down. Capron is terrific and quite believable as Rowley, an innocent who just wants to have fun regardless of what his schoolmates think. The talented Capron will certainly be an asset to additional films with children’s roles.
Many of the other major kids’ roles were also handled well. One character is a girl who stays under the bleachers as her way to hide from middle school abuse. Although Chloë Moretz does a fine job with this role, her character never seems to add anything to the plot. I also didn’t buy into Steve Zahn’s role as Greg’s dad. He acts as irrational as the middle-schoolers.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is an imaginative way to focus on serious problems and have fun while doing it. Adults and children will find it funny, and the adults will appreciate everything coming out right in the end.
(Released by 20th Century Fox and rated “PG” for some rude humor and language.)
Review also posted at www.reviewexpress.com.