Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (U)
Think of an Americanised version of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole and, lo, I give you Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
This mostly harmless exploration of near-teen angst and sibling competitiveness has a whiff of the American Pie franchise via elder brother Rodrick but with none of the risqué humour or full-on situation comedy. Instead it’s a watered down portrait of what all kids go through as their young hearts yearn for impossible love (given flesh by unattainable Holly Hills, a toothy blonde with a nice smile) whilst they fend off older, cooler kids seeking to make their lives a misery.
Based on another of Jeff Kinney’s books, this one has brothers Greg and Rodrick Heffley (Zachary Gordon and Devon Bostick) thrown together in their empty house when Mom and Dad head off for the weekend. Mom’s intention is to have her warring boys bond: if they’re pleasant to one another, she’ll reward them with Mom Dollars which, as Rodrick swiftly works out, can be turned into real moolah.
Of course Rodrick wants Greg out of the way so as to throw a party. Naturally it all goes wrong and the brothers must work together to clean up and establish a cover story.
Kinney’s book and this movie interpretation of it is all about life lessons, being honest, possessing a moral compass and knowing the difference between right and wrong. Greg’s friendship with his portly pal Rowley (Robert Capron) is about innocence and navigating a way through life’s travails. His experiences with Rodrick revolve around pain, awkwardness and frustration.
Occasionally crude and brimming with mischief, this is a portrait of an America that doesn’t really exist except within the pages of Kinney’s slightly rose-tinted books. Thankfully screenwriters Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, with director David Bowers, have retained the essence of the books and the first film.
This is how we’d like our kids to experience life. There’s an avoidance of bad language, drugs and sex. Instead kids learn from their mistakes in a world where malice appears not to exist and the worst level of punishment is being barred from entering a talent competition.
I smiled as Greg gets caught in a ladies’ loo wearing only his underpants. Of course it’s barely credible but it’s on an imaginary list of cringe-worthy moments we all wish to avoid when young.