In an effort not to come across creepy, I try to bring friend's kids along when I go to screenings of movies intended for them since I have don't have any of my own. It also helps me get an idea how they enjoyed it. I did not do this for the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid which came out last year. I really enjoyed the first one and thought that, besides being very funny, it worked on multiple levels. The first being that it appealed to the 11 and Under crowd that was preparing to go into middle school; a time period of a kid's life that seems to get overlooked by Hollywood. The second being that it appealed to adults in that it truly conveyed what it was like to be a scared poopless kid going into the dreaded 6th grade. But because I didn't have a kid with me at the time, I didn't know if children would find the movie as entertaining as I did. This time around I brought Katie, my co-host's, 7-year-old daughter. She and I sat in a packed theater and laughed our asses off from beginning to end; good to know it's not just me.
Although we have a new director in David Bowers (Astro Boy), the same cast is all back. Such a relief too because beside the comedic brilliance of the parents who are played by Rachel Harris (The Hangover, Best in Show) and Steve Zahn (Sunshine Cleaning, Strange Wilderness), all the same kids are back too.
This time around the film doesn't focus on main character Greg, played by Zachary Gordon (National Treasure, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and his obsession to be popular in school. Now we have a more mature and timeless story about brothers getting along. His older high school brother Rodrick is played even better than the first one by Devon Bostick (Saw VI, Land of the Dead). These two are fantastic together in scenes that had the whole theater in a steady, rolling chuckle. Not to mention that the supporting child actors that fill out the rest of the film are all equally hilarious.
A common complaint I hear is that there aren't films for families to enjoy together anymore. I don't really agree with that considering the quality films that Pixar puts out. But when it comes to live action, nothing could be more true. But now we have the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series to enjoy together. The quirky tone of a family dealing with odd and familiar situations reminds me a lot of TV shows like Malcom in the Middle or The Adventures of Pete & Pete. It's even more impressive that the series is trending in a way that makes me think the films will get better and better. In a quagmire of rotten, over-the-top Disney Channel garbage, it's refreshing to see a live action children's film that this adult doesn't feel wimpy saying he loved it and looks forward to seeing it again.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (Rated PG)
Gavin Grade: A