Diary of a Wimpy Kid (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/08/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

Watchable family comedy with strong supporting characters and an admirable resistance to the usual cliches, but Gordon is miscast and the script is neither as funny nor as emotionally engaging as it should have been.

What's it all about?
Directed by Thor Freudenthal, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is based on the bestselling illustrated books by Jeff Kinney. Zachary Gordon stars as 11-year-old diarist Greg Heffley, who is determined to become popular when he starts middle school with his chubby best friend Rowley (Robert Capron).

However, all Greg's schemes quickly end in failure and humiliation, whether it's getting beaten up by a girl (Laine MacNeill as Patty) when he joins the wrestling team, having a fight (with the same girl) on stage during the school play or being forced to eat lunch on the cafeteria floor along with Fregley (Grayson Russell), the school weirdo. To make matters worse, Greg falls out with his best friend after Rowley suddenly becomes popular due to having his arm in a plaster cast.

The Good
The supporting cast are excellent. Capron is terrific as Rowley, while Devon Bostick gets all the best lines as Greg's mean older brother, Rodrick, and Steve Zahn is good value as Greg's clueless dad. In addition, the script has an admirable resistance to the usual cliches, especially in its treatment of Rowley – it's refreshing to see the fat kid actually become popular and likeable on his own merits in a film like this, rather than be used as target for easy fat jokes and so on.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is that Zachary Gordon is miscast – he's not quite wimpy enough to deserve our sympathy (he bears no resemblance whatsoever to Kinney's frequently used original illustrations) and in fact he's frequently arrogrant and irritating, so you spend the whole film waiting for him to get his comeuppance rather than willing him to succeed.

Despite its impressive cliche avoidance with Rowley, the script doesn't extend the same courtesy to Fregley and Patty, both of whom are one-note caricatures. Similarly, the film criminally wastes the talented Chloe Moretz (who pops up as an advice-proffering older girl) and, aside from Bostick's one-liners, none of the jokes really work.

Worth seeing?
Diary of a Wimpy Kid has a couple of nice ideas and is never less than watchable but it's ultimately let down by a miscast lead, a lack of decent laughs and a script that fails to deliver the required emotional punch.

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Content updated: 16/07/2018 02:16

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