It was a surprise that I actually enjoyed Diary of a Wimpy Kid, it didn’t patronize, it wasn’t too childish and it had a reasonably successful laugh rate with its witty and surprisingly complex story that will keep adults entertained as much the youngsters it’s aimed at, it’s a solid and very good family movie.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid follows our hero, Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon), as he begins his first year at middle school, a period he sees as a pointless but necessary rite of passage before he can become the rich, famous, good looking and powerful man that he believes he’ll grow up to be, but first he has to get through the year. Greg is almost the smallest kid in school, he doesn’t notice the opposite sex, his best friends are now regarded as nerds, he gets beaten up by girls, has to avoid the dreaded cheese touch (see below), escape bullies and has an almighty struggle to reach the top of the popularity ladder.
Greg decides the key to climbing ladder is to join various school clubs and groups to get him into the yearbook as a ‘Class Favourite’ candidate to raise his popularity, but in the process of trying to become a cool kid he starts to push his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) away by attempting to change the way he talks, dresses and acts so he doesn’t embarras him and endanger his dream of being popular. As Greg’s plans become more selfish Rowley becomes more popular just by being himself and the pairs friendship reaches breaking point and Greg has to choose between true friendship of popularity.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a good film, the kids in the screening enjoyed it and I heard a number of laughs matched by adults equally amused by it’s touching storyline and humorous characters and situations where Robert Capron completely steals the film as the innocent, chubby and very likable Rowley. Kick Ass’s Hit Girl, Chloë Grace Moretz, makes a small appearance as a non foul mouthed, but equally beyond her years 12 year old school reporter who tries to offer advice for surviving the year to Greg and Rowley, it’s hard to watch her doing anything straight without swearing or stabbing someone in the face with a butterfly knife but she plays her part nicely.
The main issue I have with the film is the remorseless selfishness shown by the lead character Greg, who I felt loses his likability as a lead character quite easily. On top of being slightly annoying he has so many opportunities to do the right thing or to own up to his spiteful acts committed to achieve a popular status, that when he does make the soul saving gesture at the end of the film it comes across as irreverent and insincere and I would of preferred him not to have a happy ending because he didn’t deserve it. I’m sure the book tells a more remorseful and redeeming conclusion but the movie failed to give us that.
However, the film is a very likable success that’s full of wit, charm and personality from a very good young cast. Stick figure animation, mimicked from the book to highlight Greg’s issues with his moronic colleagues and to show his current standing in the popularity ladder that add a wonderful sense of connection with source material and although it’s not a film that’s going to set the box office on fire, it is a genuinely good and very well delivered family movie and I can’t remember the last time i thought that.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is out 25th August.