(2011) director David Bowers
viewed: 04/02/11 at AMC Loews Metreon 16, SF, CA
A follow-up to last year’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is an adaptation of the second book in the series of cartoon-infused stories of the trials and tribulations of Greg Heffley, the self-proclaimed “wimpy kid” protagonist. The books are actually pretty fun, the mixture of cartoons and “hand-written” script inflecting itself on the stories, making for a decent, age-appropriate read. That age is roughly 8-9 years old, possibly a bit older, though the stories are that of the hell that is middle school, not elementary
As in the first film, turning the stories into a live-action production, the characters’ behavior seems more annoying, callow, and unoriginal. The whole shebang is much more of television-level kid entertainment. The book experience, with the near stick-figure cartoons really winds up having more of a personality than the live action version of the characters.
That’s not to say that it’s all bad. Rodrick, Greg’s older brother and tormentor is played by Devon Bostick (as in the original), and he’s pretty good. Robert Capron plays Greg’s sweet, clueless buddy Rowley with some reasonable charm. And director David Bowers, who directed the very fun Flushed Away (2006) and the passable Astro Boy (2009) offers a mild upgrade from the original Diary of a Wimpy Kid director Thor Freudenthal. As for Greg himself, Zachary Gordon is fine. As I’ve noted, it floats between a narcissistic, self-absorbed characterization that comes off better in the books, varying between trying to be a more fully rounded children’s film.
Felix seemed more interested in it before we saw it, smiled and laughed through much of it, and then showed ambivalence afterward. That may well indeed be the proper and common response to the average movie of today.