Monday, August 06, 2012

a wimpy movie that kids will love

The Diary of A Wimpy Kid series of books by author Jeff Kinney are immensely popular — my eight-year-old daughter can't get enough of them. She loves them so much she has re-read them, and also enjoys reading them to me in the car. I can't say much about the drawings, which don't do much for me, but the stories are amusing and self-deprecating. And any book that makes a kid devour them in such a fashion is always good.

As for the movies ... she loves those, too, so I of course was going to take her to see the latest entry, Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days as soon as it hit the theaters. It's based on the third and fourth books in the series, The Last Straw and Dog Days. It was ... O.K. I found the hero, Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon), more than a little obnoxious. I think it's less the fault of the story or his character than the plodding direction by David Bowers. It's a little surprising that the pace seemed snail-like, as Bowers started out in animated films and has worked on and directed quite a few good ones — Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Chicken Run, Balto (as storyboard artist) and Flushed Away as director. This is his second live-action film. he directed the second Wimpy Kid movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.

Greg and his dad join the Wilderness Explorers and bond over their complete lack of camping skills
In Dog Days Greg lies to his parents, a girl (Peyton List) he has a crush on, his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) — he lies to just about everyone around him to get what he wants, and comes off as more of a whiny than wimpy kid. But bad behavior by tweens can be funny with the right pacing. It just wasn't there for me in this film. The only saving grace was Steve Zahn as Greg's dad, Frank Heffley, and his deluded rock-star-in-his-own-mind older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick). The movie starts out slowly, but Zahn's and Bostick's antics helped pick up the pace a bit at the end. The kid loved it, so all in all it was a successful trip to the movies. I do love Steve Zahn. He is always a welcome presence in any film, no matter how silly, and he has done some silly ones (Dr. Dolittle 2, Daddy Day Care).

Although the movie was clearly geared towards the kid's and not my demographic, it did pull it together enough at the end to include a nice father-son bonding experience when Greg and his dad go on a camping/scouting trip together. Is this the best kid movie we've seen this summer? Far from it. Ice Age, Madagascar, and Brave were more entertaining (at least for me). But will kids love seeing Greg grow up a bit more and get into crazy situations? Absolutely. Will they love this movie? Yep. My daughter can't wait for the next (seventh) Wimpy Kid book, which is due out in November.
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