Now Playing: The Wimpiest ‘Wimpy Kid’

Some people find the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ movies irritating, I find them somewhat charming. Are they annoyingly repetitive and full of kid-style toilet humor? Yes. Do they keep kids engaged at the movies? Yes. Do they have their moments? Yes.

‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days’ is definitely the runt of the litter in comparison to the first two movies. The new sequel is in an awkward stage as Zachary Gordon (the kid who plays young Greg Heffley) hits puberty. Gordon is quickly outgrowing the role of Greg, a kid who reminds me of Zack Morris. Greg’s scheming always gets him in trouble, but he can’t help it.

This time around, school is out for the summer and Greg would like nothing better than to sit at home playing videogames. His dad (Steve Zahn) has other plans. Spurred on by the active nature of neighborhood kids across the street, he urges his children to get outside and enjoy summer. Well, by “urges,” I mean that he rips the cords for the videogame system right out of the TV and laughs maniacally.

Soon, Greg finds himself with nothing to do, until he’s invited to go to the local country club with his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron). Greg soon finds out that the country club is where it’s at. People bring you free smoothies, the pool isn’t crowded, and his middle school crush Holly Hills (Peyton List) works there. Life couldn’t be better.

Then the movie starts jumping around like an unfocused toddler with ADD. So many things happen in the movie that it feels like a whole bunch of ‘Wimpy Kid’ vignettes plastered together in some sort of summertime collage.

I mean, there are at least half a dozen, maybe more, storylines that could’ve been the main focus of the movie: Greg and Rowley’s exploits at the country club; Greg’s failed attempts to woo Holly Hills; Greg and Rowley visiting the Jefferson summer house; the Heffley family getting a dog; Greg joining the Wilderness Explorers because his dad makes him; and so on.

This is a movie that doesn’t know where its focus is, but it still manages to crack a few smiles along the way. Kids, the main demographic, won’t really care about the unfocused nature. (At the screening I attended, kids in the audience laughed along with the movie.) However, it may drive parents a little nuts, because the entire film is a confused jumble of subplots.

This one has its moments, but the first and second ‘Wimpy Kid’ movies were more focused and much more fun to watch. This one is awkwardly put together, slightly too long, and never feels like it retains its footing once it introduces yet another plotline. With that said, the kids laughed. Really, that’s all that matters with a picture like this.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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