Funny thing: when we rolled up at the cinema to watch Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, we were all primed for slim pickings. It looked like it was going to be a rather airheaded kid’s movie that we parents could slumber through.
What’s it about? Well, based on the books by Jeff Kinney, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid follows the high school adventures of Greg Heffley, a kid who thinks a lot more of himself than his peers do. It plays like a checklist of adolescent dilemmas: annoying older brother, socially inadequate best friend, and a profound desire to become one of the most popular kids in school.
Zachary Gordon and Robert Capron play Greg and his best friend Rowley. The thing about Greg as a leading character is that he’s almost completely self-absorbed. From the outset, he’s intent of making a name for himself at school, even happy to demean his best friend if it means scoring popularity points in the playground.
Satisfyingly, Greg’s desperate attempts at social climbing universally backfire on him. When he manages to knock Rowley off his bike, Rowley breaks his arm and the resulting cast means that the overweight child instantly leapfrogs Greg in the school pecking order and starts getting attention from girls. Though Greg comes off as a horrible little bugger (I had a cousin exactly like him as a kid), much of the fun comes from the fact that he fails because he tries too hard. On the other hand, Rowley seems to progress, just by being himself.
The end result is that Robert Capron more or less steals the movie from the self-satisfied lead character. But that’s actually to be applauded, because we don’t often see that – a lead character in a kids movie acting so selfishly. The movie has more in common with all those childhood misadventure movies featuring misfits – like The Goonies and films like that.
It’s filled with plenty of fun, although the disgusting, cretinous Fregley reminds me of that Jewish kid in Family Guy. The family walked out of the cinema with two important new catchphrases:
- Ew…you’ve got the cheese touch! and,
- Zoo Wee Mamma!
It might sound like I’m griping about Greg Heffley, but that’s not the point. The movie works beautifully regardless. There are so many fun sequences – like Greg and Rowley getting chased by a bunch of older boys and hiding out in Greg’s grandma’s house, and the night of the school play when Greg and Patty Farrell start pelting each other with apples.
Finally, it was such a rarity and a joy to take the kids to a live action film for once, I thoroughly recommend this. It was nice to see a film in which the kids are fallible and where the take away lesson is “take your time with the growing up stuff, just be yourself”.
Casting fun: To my immense surprise and geeky pleasure it turns out that Devon Bostick played the annoying older brother. It’s always brilliant to see the cast of [[Being Erica (TV Series)|Being Erica]] pop up in other places, and this was no exception. He looked like the fourth Jonas Brother in this movie, so maybe Disney will snap him up?
Sequel: You heard right – there’s a second film coming, due for release March 2011.