Tuesday, May 04, 2010

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID - Preteen Hijinks

Cast: Chloe Moretz, Steve Zahn, Rachael Harris, Devon Bostick, Zachary Gordon and Alex Ferris
Director: Thor Freudenthal
Screenplay: Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo, Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, based on the novel by Jeff Kinney
Time: 93 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Grayson Russell, Zachary Gordon and Robert Capron in Diary of a Wimpy Kid

PREAMBLE: There have been countless comedies about the trials and tribulations of college kids. Now it is the turn of middle school children (or preteens) - as seen from the eyes of novelist-cartoonist Jeff Kinney. Adapted from his bestseller of the same title, the movie recounts the (mis)adventures of its protagonist, 11-year-old Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon).

Like the books, the movie targets young children who will relate well to Greg but adults, especially parents, may also find it interesting, if not funny.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Greg documents his first year of middle school in his journal (not diary, he insists), taking note of the social anxieties and identity crises that pop up in that strange environment called school. At home, he has to contend with his mother (Rachael Harris), a distracted dad (Steve Zahn), a nasty older brother (Devon Bostick as Rodrick) and a toddler brother Manny, who all provide moments of predictable comedy.

The main plot involves Greg’s relationship with his best pal, Rowley (Robert Capron), a tubby, cheery fellow whom Greg rejects for not being cool enough. As for his relationship with girls, it is more of an intrusion into his life than a welcomed distraction.

HITS & MISSES: Staying rather faithful to the 2007 'novel-in-cartoons', director Thor Freudenthal (who gave us Hotel For Dogs) has no problem getting the audience to root for Greg especially when Gordon portrays him as a cute and rather small-sized victim of girls and school bullies.

Youngsters in the audience may also relate to the recurring subplot of a dropped slice of cheese in the playground which provide a yukky 'urban legend' of sorts for the kids. It is to his benefit that Freudenthal keeps the comedy simple and superficial for the preteens who will form the majority of his viewers. Those who are used to rowdier and saucier comedy may find this Diary rather childish and tame.

THE LOWDOWN: A fun treat with cool insights into the world of the preteens.


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