Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2012) movie poster

director David Bowers
viewed: 08/04/2012 at AMC Metreon 16, SF, CA

For all the movies that the kids and I watch together, we don’t see many live-action “family” comedies like this one.  We have seen the predecessors in the series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010) and even Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2011).  If anything, it’s kind of surprising that we’ve seen one much less this whole series so far.

I offered the kids the choice of going to see a “sing-along” Mary Poppins (1964) at the Castro (which would have been my preference) or to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.  Let it not be said that I overly dictate our choices.

Much like the prior installments, adapted from the comic-like books of Jeff Kinney, the translation to live-action and the big screen forfeits a lot of the charms.  While some of the actors are not terrible, the uninspired story centers around Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon), a middle school boy trying to have a good summer despite his father, friends, and family.  This film, I understand, combined two books into one for its narrative.  Maybe that’s why it felt kind of all over the place.

At one point, Greg refers to himself in voice-over as “a pretty nice kid,” but that his best friend Rowley’s father doesn’t like him.  The thing is that Greg really isn’t that nice of a kid.  He’s selfish and cowardly, and seems to have no charms, skills, or talents.  After one night at his friend Rowley’s beach house, he writes an email to all of Rowley’s father’s contacts saying that he can’t stand being with them and to help him escape.  Then he accidentally calls 911 and has Rowley’s father tackled by police.  He’s never shown apologizing or showing gratitude.

What’s not to like?

For me, it’s most everything.  The only part that I found funny at all was when older brother Rodrick’s band does a cover of a Justin Bieber song at the sweet 16 birthday party.  Devon Bostick, who plays Rodrick, is one of the film’s more entertaining figures.

I disliked the film.  Clara liked it okay.  Felix said it was okay.  I’ll remind them of this with great determination if another of these films comes out and perhaps I’ll lean on my own recommendations.