Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Review by Jack Foley
DIARY of a Wimpy Kid is inspired by the illustrated novels of American author-cartoonist Jeff Kinney, which have collectively sold 28 million books, and is yet another movie attempt to kick-start a potentially lucrative franchise.
Directed by Thor Freudenthal, whose last film was the similarly flawed Hotel For Dogs, it’s an admittedly amiable offering, but one that fades all too quickly from the memory.
Zachary Gordon stars as the wimpy kid in question, Greg Heffley, a wise-cracking pre-teen who must navigate his way through the first year of middle school with a socially awkward, overweight best friend named Rowley (Robert Capron) for company and a bullying older brother (Devon Bostick) sniggering from the sidelines.
En route to learning valuable lessons about friendship, loyalty and sacrifice, Greg encounters embarrassing wrestling incidents, toxic cheese, haunted woods, disastrous school plays and nights out with mum.
But while some of these can be observant and occasionally amusing, Freudenthal’s film struggles to escape the feeling of being too episodic and is burdened by a leading character who is too difficult to really like.
Gordon’s Greg is meant to be a character whose desperation to find popularity comes at the expense of those around him, but he’s a little too smart and, therefore, precocious for his own good and subsequently finds the film stolen out from under him by Capron’s much more likable Rowley.
Freudenthal’s use of supporting characters is also overdone in places, with Grayson Russell’s Fregley a little too OTT and geeky, and Chloe Moretz’s Angie too cool for her own good. Steve Zahn’s dad could also do with a little more flesh and blood humanity, rather than merely being there to pick up the pieces or land himself in trouble.
That said, younger viewers will doubtless enjoy the juvenile pratfalls that befall the kids, while there’s a knowing sense of the difficulty of making an identity for yourself during those awkward early school years that will give rise to chuckles among the adults.
But with a sequel already in the works, the feeling is very much that Diary of a Wimpy Kid has a lot of room for improvement.
Running time: 94mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: February 7, 2011