Monday, April 29, 2013

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Directed by David Bowers.
2012. Rated PG, 94 minutes.
Peyton List
Karan Brar
Laine MacNeil
Grayson Russell
Melissa Roxburgh
Philip Maurice Hayes

Our favorite wimpy kid Greg (Gordon) is back for another adventure. This time, school’s out and he hopes to spend the summer perched in front of the TV playing video games. After his dad (Zahn) nixes that idea, he pals around with his bestest buddy Rowley (Capron) at the country club of which Rowley’s family are members. There, he pursues his other favorite pastime, Holly Hills (List). Early teen hijinks and shenanigans ensue.

Much of our time is spent at said country club with Greg and Rowley. We also get to spend plenty of time with Rowley’s family. This is where the movie excels. Most of us have gone to stay for awhile with friends or relatives only to discover they do nothing the way we do things in our own homes and had to suffer through it. Dog Days takes great pains to convey the feelings we had when that happened and even how hurt our hosts are when they find out we’re not exactly enjoying ourselves. Weaved into this we see how the dynamics of the two boys’ friendship works and is strained by these events. During this time we see such other things we remember from our own youth, or will surely experience if you’re a member of the actual target audience, such as sneaking off to do things we've been forbidden to and being bullied by our older siblings. These, combined with Greg’s fawning over Holly and willingness to do just about anything to be near her ring truest of all the situations presented. Thankfully, big brother’s antics are scaled back a bit from the previous movie except for his show-stopping number late in the proceedings.

This installment again fails in the department of parent-child relationships. While the things I mention in the previous paragraph has an authentic feel to them even when they’re over the top, what happens between Greg and his dad does not. It’s too broadly stroked sitcom stuff with a lazy moral. The difference between this and part two (Rodrick Rules) is that it’s mom (Harris) who is mostly a sideline player while Greg and dad try to bond. The other thing about this is that it feels disingenuous. There are no such efforts made toward Rodrick who is very apparently wasting his life and is at a much more advanced age than Greg. While Greg is made to get off his keester and stay off the video games, nothing at all is said to Rodrick who literally sleeps all day and plays in a marginally talented band. Finally, Greg’s other friends are once again relegated to slightly more than cameo appearances. They helped make the first movie feel like the real life of a pre-teen. In the two movies since they generally show up for a scene that could probably be cut from the picture without us missing anything.

Dog Days is better than Rodrick Rules but not quite as good as the original. It does some things very well and others not so much making it a very uneven watch. In other words, it basically vacillates between being a funny, highly nostalgic sitcom to an unfunny one filled with jokes that come with pre-ordained punchlines. If you’re a fan of the series, this will be another welcome entry. If not, it won’t ruin your day.

MY SCORE: 6/10

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