Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Directed by Thor Freudenthal.
2010. Rated PG, 94 minutes.
Zachary Gordon
Robert Capron
Rachael Harris
Steve Zahn
Devon Bostick
Chloë Grace Moretz
Karan Brar
Grayson Russell

Greg (Gordon) is just starting middle school. He also begins his quest to become one of the school’s favorites, and in fact already ranks himself 19th out of 200. His less mature best friend Rowley (Capron) seems to be holding him back. Meanwhile, his big brother Rodrick (Bostick) and other neighborhood “big kids” threaten to kill him on a daily basis.

Watching our hero repeatedly try and fail to raise his popularity quotient is fairly entertaining. It captures the transition from elementary to middle school rather nicely. For us adults, those days when our best laid social plans went astray may come flooding back to us. For kid, most can relate but won’t admit it. Who wants to be the kid that only wants to be liked?

It help that there are some genuinely funny moments. Like the best of this movie, they’re slightly over the top but somehow still universal. For instance, there is a scene where Rodrick chases Greg, causing Greg to lock himself in his own room. Greg’s lengthy hideout is the universal part. It’s not unlike what plays out in houses all over the country. The conclusion to this segmen just ices the cake.

Even better, the filmmakers have the confidence and trust in their audience to make Greg unlikeable for much of the movie. His self-centeredness both compels and repels us. When his inevitable redemption comes about, and I don’t think I’m spoiling anything, it’s about his relationship with his best friend. That is something we can relate to.

There are a few stretches of flatness. During those times, the jokes get a bit repetitive and don’t work as well. Chloë Grace Moretz, who stole the show as Hit-Girl in [i]Kick-Ass[/i] mostly just take up space, here. Her character should’ve been much more important or absent all together. Like most family movies the adults are only there to show that they do exist in this universe of little heroes and villains. It’s not the greatest kiddie flick you’ll ever see but it’s enjoyable.

The Opposite View: Ty Burr, Boston Globe

What the Internet Says: 6.1/10 on imdb.com (8/24/10), 53% on rottentomatoes.com, 56/100 on metacritic.com

MY SCORE: 6.5/10

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