Monday, July 25, 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Directed by David Bowers.
2011. Rated PG, 99 minutes.
Zachary Gordon
Devon Bostick
Rachael Harris
Robert Capron
Steve Zahn
Connor Fielding
Owen Fielding
Peyton List
Karan Brar
Laine MacNeil

Greg (Gordon) is back for a second middle-school adventure. Most of the angst he experienced in sixth grade is gone. His biggest social hurdle nowadays is trying to figure out how to approach the school’s very pretty new girl. His real problems are at home where big brother Rodrick (Bostick) tortures him on a daily basis. Meanwhile, Mom (Harris) is completely bent on making her boys get along so that her real life is as perfect as she portrays it in her newspaper column. Sibling rivalry hijinks and shenanigans ensue.

Often, sequels attempt to do everything bigger than their predecessors. The larger scale tends to translate into a loss of focus on the things we liked about the previous movie. A curious thing happens in Rodrick Rules. It actually has a smaller scope than the original. A number of characters are either eliminated or relegated to lesser roles. Greg’s interaction with the sizable school community is replaced with what goes on at home between at home between the brothers and/or mom. Even Dad (Zahn) is just kinda there for long stretches. Despite all this it still feels less focused than the first film. It’s certainly less ambitious, feeling more like a long episode of a Disney Channel sitcom than a movie. This means the target audience will probably still like it. Us parents, not so much this time around.

RR does have its moments. There are pockets of goodness scattered here and there as reminders of what once was. Not surprisingly, most of these moments happen in school. The movie shines when depicting the often Darwinist society of pre-teens. It falls flat when away from this setting because Greg’s family is made up of the same caricatures we’ve seen rehashed for decades. Their worst offense is they’re not funny, making this a bit of a chore to sit through for adults. Kids will likely enjoy it while it’s on, but forget about it five minutes after its over.

MY SCORE: 4.5/10

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