Rated PG for some rude humor and language, 93 minutes
"Diary of A Wimpy Kid" has heart, good lessons for everyone
Everyone was a kid once, and some of us were wimpy kids, especially in middle school. At the time, middle school was a necessary evil, something the new kids comedy "The Diary of A Wimpy Kid" illustrates very well. An energetic live-action version of the first novel in the popular illustrated novel series by Jeff Kinney of the same name, the themes are familiar and certainly geared for the young set, but even adults can find something to relate to.
"Wimpy Kid" chronicles the adventures of middle school student Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) and his portly best friend Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron) over the course of an academic year, as told through Greg's journal and hand-drawn cartoons. The two buddies must also survive some obstacles to get through middle school, such as tolerating their weird neighborhood kid Fregley (Grayson Russell), wrestling a tough girl named Patty Farrell (Laine MacNeil), having to play outdoor Phys Ed games without shirts on, avoiding being killed by Greg's older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), getting embarrassed by Greg's parents (Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn), and, worst of all, trying to avoid getting the infamous cheese touch.
"The Diary of a Wimpy Kid" is genuine and goofy, if not well-worn tale of middle-school life. Though it's based on a series of novels, it seems overly familiar and borrowed from other sources and could really be a contemporary cross between "Leave It to Beaver" and "Malcolm in the Middle," and while this thing has been seen many times before, it's engagingly played out by young actors Gordon and Capron, doing their best version of Beaver Cleaver and Larry Mondello. The episodic travails of the two are amusingly peppered with with the familiar illustrations from Kinney's novels.
Whether failing miserably at wrestling (or any other sport for that matter) or being popular, at one time we've all been in the same position as Greg and Rowley, and those often humiliating experiences are quickly forgotten as many of us grow up to be well-adjusted adults with families of our own. If nothing else, it'll help adults to be a little more sensitive to the trauma known as middle school.
"The Diary of a Wimpy Kid" is as predictable and simplistic as many others in this genre, but unlike others, it has more heart, more entertaining and valuable lessons we can all learn from. Just stay away from that moldy cheese.