Diary of a Wimpy Kid
There’s a new kind of cool kid in middle school, ladies and gentlemen. And his name is Rowley Jefferson. This heavy-set, clueless anomaly of pre-teen popularity is the best friend of the narrator of the new movie DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, and he steals the movie from that narrator, played by Zachary Gordon. Gordon actually spends most of the movie as an unlikable schmuck; a mean, cocky, selfish kid who uses people. I actually spent the first part of this film wondering why he was the protagonist at all. And that’s actually the unexpectedly great thing about this movie, the fact that it’s moral of “be yourself” comes at you from an unknown source, and in a completely unsappy, and genuinely funny way…all on the shoulders of one Rowley Jefferson.
Zachary Gordon plays Greg Heffley and in the beginning of the film he appears to be the lovable underdog we want to root for. After he explains his diary, and we see the awkward dynamic he has with his family, he spends the better part of his first days in middle school talking about how cool he is, and how he’ll basically run the place. That’s when we meet his best friend Rowley Jefferson (young, rotund Robert Capron) who actually rides a pink bike to school complete with basket and pink tassels. This kid actually has a T-shirt with a picture of him and his mom that says “Me and My Mommy.” How can you not love this kid? Well, the Heffley kid thinks he’s the thing holding him back from eventual Middle School superstardom, despite the fact that left and right he himself is committing all the social faux pas. He tries out for wrestling under the impression that WWE has prepared him, he can’t get a seat in the cafeteria, and the super-scary-alpha-girl Patty Farell (Laine MacNeil) beats him up whenever she gets the chance. And their idea of a cool club to join is the Hall Monitor Security Squad. They have another outcast friend in the befreckled, strange Fregley (Grayson Russell) and the cryptic, too-smart-for-middle-school reporter for the school paper Angie (played by Chloe Moretz, who we’ll see later in KICK-ASS). But the standout is Rowley, who after an accident, gains instant popularity, and wins over people with his great personality, and instead of being happy for him, Heffley is jealous and bitter. The friendship breaks up, and Heffley falls further into oblivion without learning his lesson, until a final showdown leads to his moment of redemption…involving cheese.
Gordon plays Heffley as a very possible kid. A kid who’s maybe had a little popularity in the early grades, then moving up, thinking he’s figured out the class system and will excel and getting surprised by the reality. His older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), tortures him at home in funny situations, and his mother and father have some good moments too, but that’s fitting because they’re played by comic actors Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn. But really this movie had me at Rowley. He finds laughs in the most simple places, still says “come over and play,” and has an awesome dance number to the Beastie Boys “Intergalactic” with…wait for it… his mom! And he is not self-conscious about any of it. And that’s the lesson. Which is also taught to us in a hilarious video the kids see in class made in the late 80’s with a “Magnum P.I.” look-alike. Like I said, people, this movie comes at you unexpectedly. Let your kids enjoy it, and you might, too.
Click here to watch the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Trailer.