Diary Of A Wimpy Kid

Based on a series of books by Jeff Kinney, Diary Of A Wimpy kid follows the growing pains of 12 year old Greg Heffley as he embarks on the jungle that is middle school. Tackling the social strata, battling his way through the lunch room (“the cruellest place in the world”) and trying desperately to grow 6 inches in height – there’s a lot for young Greg to get to grips with. But his old friends don’t seem so bothered about the popularity he so desperately craves. Can Greg drag them with him into the inner circle, or is it time to sacrifice bonds of friendship in exchange for a table with the cool kids?

Connect the spots

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid traces over the storylines of countless other coming-of-age high school comedies without ever really adding anything new. There’s the young, flawed protagonist who learns the hard way the value of true friendship, his scene-stealing overweight best friend who gets left behind and the darkly mature misfit who offers advice along the way. It’s all quite high-school-by-numbers, but the young cast are engaging enough that it doesn’t particularly matter. The jokes flow thick and fast, and though they don’t always hit the mark there’s enough in there to keep you and your offspring occupied. The animation sequences – where Greg takes us through the world through the eyes of his journal – are by far the best thing about the film; snappy, funny and interesting, adding a much needed distinctive touch to an otherwise fairly bland concept. So it’s funny, energetic, with a cast that includes Hit Girl from Kick Ass? How could this go wrong?

I hate you Greg. I hate you.

The big problem with this film is that the protagonist, wee Greg, is deeply unlikable. And also that Chloe Mortez at no point kills anyone with a sword, but mainly it’s the protagonist thing. Young Greg is petty, conniving, selfish and though his perky self-awareness is meant to give him a cheeky edge, it just comes off as arrogant. Of course, he’s a 12 year old boy, which is enough to make anyone unbearable, but in comparison to loveable best friend Rowley he is, quite simply, a little shit. And it’s difficult to want good things to happen to him. The Big Lessons he learns feel forced and unbelievable, and rather than applaud his efforts, you simply want to slap him in his smug little face. Of course, this probably won’t matter to their young target audience; there’s enough slapstick comedy to drown out any air of righteousness, but it’s just a bit of a shame, as it means any morality the creators try and instill (and gosh do they try) ultimately ends up hollowing the experience.

Close your eyes and think of puberty

All in all, there are far worse ways to silence young people for a couple of hours, and likable performances from almost everyone makes Diary Of Wimpy Kid a superior choice to summer flicks like Cats And Dogs 2: The Studio Wants More Money. Yes, it’s fickle, forgettable and occasionally annoying, but hey, that’s what being 12 years old is all about, right?

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