Watching DIARY OF A WIMPY KID made me full of happiness and joy to be so far removed from those awkward middle school years…unfortunately for the characters in this film, in particular Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) and Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron) they are about to embark on their first year of middle school and have a lot to learn beyond the classroom. As Greg attempts to work his way into the spotlight, his sweet friend and side kick, Rowley, continues to be true to himself and manages to come out on top despite Greg’s ‘helpful’ guidance. They attempt everything, wrestling club, safety patrol, school play, and writing comics for the newspaper to find their way into yearbook glory. Throughout their shenanigans we get transported back to the middle school years (or a glimpse into the future for those who have yet to start the wonderful world that is middle school).
This movie couldn’t be more perfectly cast –Gordon does a great job as likeable yet frustrating Greg by delivering the right amount of good intentions to keep you torn between wanting him to succeed and wanting him to learn life lessons. Greg combines every kid’s worst instincts into one; he’s really not a great friend and you wonder why Rowley is so loyal to their friendship. Whoever selected Capron for the role of Rowley deserves a standing ovation. His story line is by far the most interesting one and you cannot get enough of him on screen. What a genuine performance that was delivered perfectly! It was fun meeting a handful of fantastic supporting characters from class spazz Fregley and alpha female Patty, to Greg’s parents (Rachel Harris and Steve Zahn) who are brilliant as the bumbling parents. I wasn’t crazy about the performance of Greg’s older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick) but cannot pinpoint what I wish was different about his performance. The only time I was amused when he was on screen was when he shouts “get off of me baby hippo!” to Rowley and when he startles Greg in the bathroom.
The Physical Education scenes were by far my favorite and included a few genuine belly laughs, Zahn’s overzealous attempt at stopping teens from toilet-papering his yard on Halloween made me chuckle a bit too. Loved the routine performed by Rowley and his mom at the dance – so great! Despite those fun moments, overall, I was mildly disappointed in the film and found it to be a bit of a snooze. Granted, if I were the target audience, I might feel differently or if I were looking for a film that kids might like, I would probably suggest they watch this movie. It’s hard to be unsupportive of a film that has the underlining message of ‘be yourself’.
Video: (1.85:1 Widescreen) Sharp picture, great for the ever changing moldy cheese that continually gets pushed into the storyline.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) Nice sound, you can feel the thundering herd of big kids running toward little Chirag in the PE scene.
Deleted Diary Pages: 9 minute long snippets including Fregley’s Scavenger Hunt, Rowley’s Lost Zoo-Wee-Mama Cartoons, Greg Has the Cheese Touch, Greg Meets Fregley’s Mom, Mom Suggests a Friendship Card, Mr. Winsky’s Safety Patrol Assignment, Greg and Rowely Jump Over the Wall, Mom Drops Greg Off at School, Fregley’s Shuffle, and Chirag’s Trail of Tears. The only diary pages worth watching are Greg Has the Cheese Touch (this should have been in the film), Chirag’s Trail of Tears and Rowely’s Lost Zoo-Wee-Mama Cartoons. The rest are superfluous. These snippets desperately needed a “play all” button. The wait for each one was annoyingly long.
Feature Commentary with Director Thor Freudenthal and Writer Gabe Sachs: We learn where the movie deviates from the book, random facts about the cast and characters and how they incorporated drawings from the book into the scenes.