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Movies Review

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid

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Diary Of A Wimpy Kid

© WENN

Released on Wednesday, Aug 25 2010

Based on Jeff Kinney's illustrated novels, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid centres on 12-year-old Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) as he experiences the perils of middle school. It strives to keep the spirit of Malcolm In The Middle alive, but falls a way short of capturing tween angst with a fresh perspective. Greg is surrounded by a father who's as immature as his kids (Steve Zahn), a strict but well-meaning mother (Rachel Harris), an antagonistic brother (Devon Bostick) and his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron). This framework is very much 'sitcom', and it's one of the movie's key problems - it struggles to make an original attack on these established conventions and as result doesn't really feel justified on the big screen.

It begins with Greg panicking about entering sixth grade. One witty sequence lines up pre and post-summer photographs of his classmates that show how much they've changed over a short space of time. Another memorable segment involves a running gag about a mouldy piece of cheese that's stuck to the floor of the school playground. The kids avoid it, desperate not to get the 'Cheese Touch' and become social kryptonite. That grim piece of processed dairy is a bit like the movie as a whole; quirky, unusual, yet not quite as funny or original as it hopes to be.

When the movie settles the main focus is on Greg's desire to be popular and climb the social ladder. Gordon has a difficult role, trying to make his character appear sympathetic when he's constantly trampling over his pal Rowley (they are a true Bart/Milhouse double-act). Gordon is shorn of the Simpson boy's cheeky anarchic charm, making him come across as mean-spirited. Chalk it down to youthful exuberance, though, which makes up somewhat for the ordeals he puts Rowley through.

Inevitably, there's redemption for Greg, and the put-upon Rowley (the most endearing character in the movie) gets moments to shine in a dance sequence and when he becomes the cartoonist for the school paper. Chloe Moretz, last seen dishing out relationship advice in (500) Days Of Summer and dropping the C-bomb in Kick-Ass, turns up all too briefly as Angie, a seventh-grader who helps Greg navigate the school year. It's another hugely confident, wise-head-on-young shoulders turn from Moretz, who, with the eagerly-awaited Let Me In and Martin Scorsese's Hugo Cabret on the horizon, is shaping up to be a big star despite barely being in her teens.

It's not that Wimpy Kid is a bad film, it's more that this idea has been done before, and better, on TV with Malcolm, Reese and Dewey. The Malcolm In The Middle family were even more spectacularly dysfunctional than Frankie Muniz's protagonist, giving him plenty of obstacles to hurdle, yet here you're never quite rooting for the hero as much as you feel you should be.


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