‘Wimpy Kid’ wimps out
Jennifer Katzer Collegio Reporter
The common theme of a slightly cynical, bullied main character comes alive again in the 2011 film “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules,” the second movie based on the popular children’s books.
Greg (Zachary Gordon) is the middle child of an average working-class family, constantly tortured by his brothers. The movie follows his first few weeks of the new school year as he encounters many people and events that make his life difficult.
Keeping in mind that this is aimed toward children, the movie as a whole was well delivered and clever, with a strong cast and mostly believable and generally lovable characters.
Greg had both gentle and cruel moments, which is true of any person. I was happy to see character flaws in the main character. Throughout the first half of the film, he played a mean practical joke on his friend, Chirag Gupta, (Karan Brar), in which he refused to acknowledge the boy’s existence. Soon after this joke began, the entire school joined in on it. After many recent children’s movies that have attempted to put the main character on a do-no-wrong pedestal, this obviously cruel prank made Greg all the more relatable, and therefore more lovable. This mean and silly streak made me cheer all the louder for the unveiling of his heart of gold near the end of the movie.
I was also quite pleased with Rodrick (Devon Bostick). Rodrick is the typical girl-crazy, teenaged older brother obsessed with his own oddly named rock band Even though he played the stereotypical bully of an older brother at the beginning of the movie, he turned into a well-developed character with a complete heart and soul. Through Bostick’s heartfelt expression and delivery, the character’s hurts and dreams came alive on the screen, making him fully relatable and thoroughly lovable.
Expect strong stereotyping in this movie. I saw an overbearing mother with a tendency to try too hard, a downtrodden father who has thrown his life into a quirky hobby, the easily-frightened, porky best friend, a school bully, a beautiful and sweet romantic focus, and an unfair schoolteacher with a thirst for young blood. At first, I believed that the purpose of these stereotypes was to poke fun at stereotypes. However, as the movie continued and some of the stereotypes fell away, I concluded that this was merely a tool for making the characters easy to digest for children. I feel that if the previous idea had been true, this would have been a brilliant source of entertainment for the adults in the audience.
I laughed through much of this film. Rowley’s goofy lip-sync of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok,” was unforgettable, and similar moments scattered throughout the movie are enough to keep the easily entertained hooked to the screen through the first half of the film.
Toward the end, however, I began to feel restless and bored. The moments of silliness were not enough to keep my attention through the choppy and erratic plot. The subplots seemed disjointed, providing a drawn-out and trying path through the final half hour of the movie. I got the feeling that there was supposed to be tension building up, but I simply wasn’t feeling it.
Overall, the dialogue was the strongest point of this movie. The silly lines were delivered smoothly with little cheesiness and the actors were wholly believable.
With the target audience in mind, I’m afraid that there might not be enough visual appeal, which is important when expecting a child to sit still for two long hours. Speaking from experience with many children of this age group, I know that it takes a movie with plenty of bright colors and movement to attract and hold attention. However, the silly activities and lovable oddball characters should hold the attention of children aged 9 to 12, especially if those children are already fans of the book.