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NJ Kids Movie Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Posted by: NJ Kids Team - August 08, 2012

SYNOPSIS: This third movie in the Wimpy Kid franchise finds dorky Greg Heffley pretending to have a job at the local country club to avoid being an intern at his dad’s office. Things don’t quite go as planned.

Which Kids Will Like It? Kids eight and older who liked the first two Wimpy Kid movies, or who’ve read the books by Jeff Kinney.   

Will Parents Like It? While not the best family movie of the year, it still features positive messages about family, friendship and being a good person. It’s also fun that they integrate the book’s cartoon drawings into the movie.

REVIEW: This third installment of the Wimpy Kid franchise once again focuses on Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) and his awkward journey through childhood. He’s just finished seventh grade and has big plans to spend the summer playing video games, hanging out with best friend Rowley (Robert Capron), and trying to get the attention of cute girl Holly (Peyton List).

But Greg’s dad (Steve Zahn) wishes he were more like his neighbor’s outdoorsy kids, and decides to ban video games for the rest of the summer. A travesty in Greg’s mind!

To make matters worse, Mrs. Heffley (Rachael Harris) decides that Greg and his dad should spend more quality time together. That doesn’t sit well with either of them, since they have nothing in common except for a comic strip in the newspaper they both agree isn’t the least bit funny. But they make an effort, like attempting to go fishing and participate in Mr. Heffley’s Civil War reenactment group.

To avoid having to work as an unpaid intern at his dad’s office, Greg pretends to have a job at the country club where Rowley and Holly are members. Wacky antics ensue – including a camping trip that goes horribly wrong. Eventually, Greg’s lies catch up to him, and he ends up disappointing both his dad and Rowley.

These Wimpy Kid movies sound good in theory, but never quite measure up to my expectations. I realize they’re aimed at tweens, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have believable characters, good dialogue, and thoughtful storylines. The adults in this movie are some of the dumbest people on the planet. On the other hand, maybe we’re supposed to see them through the eyes of the kids – who would, in fact, believe they’re some of the dumbest people on the planet.

Zachary Gordon is adorably awkward as a middle schooler trying to navigate the rocky terrain of parents and girls. And with his loveably dorky expressions, Robert Capron gives another standout performance as the most faithful best friend ever.

Unlike the first two movies, this one focuses less on secondary characters like vengeful Patty and awkward Fregley, and more on Greg’s relationship with his dad and romance with Holly. Despite the fact that it’s just not a great movie, there are several positive messages here. Greg and his dad forge a more meaningful relationship, the dorky guy gets the cute girl, it’s always better to tell the truth, and true friendship always prevails. Even Greg and his older brother Rodrick – who loves picking on Greg – share a meaningful moment.

I also love that while some characters are stereotypical – Holly’s older sister is over-the-top diva and impolite to both kids and grownups – we also have some surprises. Holly is cute, but still sweet and caring. She even likes dorky Greg when you’d think she would be out of his league. And Rowley continues to be my favorite character in this series, because he never pretends to be anyone other than a sweet kid who loves his friends and family.

If you or your kids are big fans of the books or other movies, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is probably worth seeing. Otherwise, you could wait for the DVD.

Official Site: http://www.diaryofawimpykidmovie.com/

Reel Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Reels

MPAA Rating: PG for some rude humor

Runtime: 94 minutes

Directed by: David Bowers

Cast: Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn, Robert Capron, Devon Bostick, Rachael Harris, Peyton List, Grayson Russell, Laine MacNeil, Melissa Roxburgh

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:

One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.

Two Reels – Coulda been a contender

Three Reels – Something to talk about.

Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!

Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

by Jane Boursaw.  Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies and TV. Visit her at Reel Life With Jane; follow her on Twitter; become a friend on Facebook; email jboursaw@charter.net.

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Posted by: NJ Kids Team| August 08, 2012
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