Like one of those charming Afterschool Specials that the teacher thought was good enough to show in class on free day, the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid installment entertains by being silly, heartwarming and sincere. This modest little trinket continues the story of Greg Heffley, focusing on his efforts to spend the summer doing what he really loves – play video games – while avoiding in amusing fashion his dad’s designs to have him go outdoors.
Soon to be an eighth-grader, Greg has an additional goal as the school year concludes: to hang out with his school crush, Holly (preferably while they play video games together). When he visits the country club where best pal Rowley’s parents are members, Greg finds Holly teaching younger kids tennis lessons. To get out of interning at his dad’s workplace, Greg pretends he’s employed at the club – a lie that serves to make his dad proud, gets him out of working for nothing, and gives him an official reason to be at the club every day.
But after a disastrous outing with Rowley and his parents at a beachside resort, Greg’s access to the club is compromised. However, his perseverance does more than keep him in contact with Holly – it affords him the opportunity to play matchmaker for older brother Roderick, who is sweet on Holly’s big sister, Heather.
As Greg’s dad, Frank, Steve Zahn is appealing though never entirely convincing as a father, even when he’s doing the good-dad thing of trying to expand his son’s horizons beyond the TV screen. The same can be said of Rachael Harris, who is very likable if a little off as Greg’s mom, Susan. But the odd casting here works in the film’s favor, as there’s a sweet naivete to these daffy parents: Susan for her enthusiasm in starting a neighborhood book club for Greg and his friends; and Frank for trying to get his son to embrace the character-building of the Boy Scouts. Plus, these two are sufficiently unlike what passes for parents in most kids’ shows and movies, it’s refreshing just for the change.
The young actors, particularly Zachary Gordon and Robert Capron as Greg and Rowley, do a great job of finding a balance between the comedy and pathos required of their characters. One of the many things the film gets right about adolescence is its impulsiveness, a trait that can lead to memorable adventures and regrettable actions, sometimes under the same circumstances.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days would have benefited from lingering a little more on its comedic set pieces, particularly those steeped in socially awkward moments. To its credit, the movie doesn’t condescend to the younger set that is its target audience, trusting them to understand the valuable lessons it offers about the importance of honesty and respect. It also shows that a parent’s quiet disappointment can be just as instructional to a child as their anger, if not more so. Such lessons give the movie a heart to go along with its funny bone.
After seeing the "new Superman" I thought it was alright but, I kind of hoped…
Gerwig is so awesome all-around. Would love to give her hugs and be friends. :)
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Cant wait to watch it!