It was inevitable that there was going to be a sequel to 2010’s highly successful Diary of a Wimpy Kid based on the popular children’s book series. Despite having a new director, most of the first film’s cast and screenwriters have returned, well aware of what a gold mine they are sitting on. Who can blame them? Not only was it a commercially successful film, but also looks like it would have been a lot of fun to work on.
The film starts off with Greg (Zachary Gordon) starting his year in the seventh grade. After one too many clashes with his older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick), their parents (Steve Zahn and Rachael Harris) force them to spend time together so they can learn to get along. The only incentive the boys have in partaking in this scheme is their mum’s “Mom Bucks”, fake money that can be cashed in for real money for every hour the boys spend with one another. Despite being specifically instructed by his parents not to have friends over while they are gone for the weekend, Rodrick decides to throw a huge party at their house, naturally only causing further troubles for the brothers.
Both the child and adult actors alike are a real treat to watch. Zachary Gordon effortlessly reprises his role as Greg, the wannabe cool guy conscious of the social dos and don’ts of middle school. Steve Zahn and Rachael Harris manage to maintain both the conservatism and wackiness of Greg’s parents, and Devon Bostick exudes coolness as the rockin’ older brother. Though some of the characters are basically just clichés, such as Holly (Peyton List), the pretty new girl at school Greg has a crush on, or the mean teacher who has it in for Greg, they are surprisingly also interesting to watch too. Greg’s school chums Rowley (Robert Capron), Fregley (Grayson Russell), and Crirag (Karan Brar) do not get anywhere as near screen time as they did in the first film, which is a shame as they provided most of that film’s laughs with their own unique forms of quirkiness. Every actor in this film seems to be having fun with their roles, and if they weren’t, then it shows what good actors they are!
While the film depicts the typical awkward scenarios kids have always faced while growing up, such as embarrassing parents (the mum’s very daggy dancing for instance) or not knowing how to impress the opposite sex, these kids of the ‘10s are very tech savvy and have the perils of various forms of technology to deal with throughout the film. Greg and Rowley attempt to make a YouTube video where Rowley pretends to fall off a chair while wearing undies on his head and lip-syncs to the Ke$ha song ‘Tik Tok’ (pretty random, huh?). There is also the scene when Greg is being videotaped on CCTV while running around his grandfather’s retirement village in his undies. Perhaps these scenes are a subtle warning to kids of the dangers of technology?
This sequel focuses more on the brotherly relationship between Greg and Rodrick rather than Greg’s unquenchable desire for popularity. You see Rodrick more as the struggling up-and-coming musician that he is rather than just the mean-spirited prankster he is depicted as in the first film. Though some fans of the first film may miss Greg’s high jinks while pursuing the title of the most popular boy in school, the film is better off for going in a different direction. (Who really wants to see a movie just repeat what happened in the previous film? Enough sequels to that already!) Overall, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is an enjoyable family movie with plenty of silly moments for the kids to laugh at and enough wit for the parents whose kids probably bugged them into seeing this movie to enjoy too.
Originally published at meapcareers.com.au on Tuesday 5 April 2011