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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days Review: Lies, Damn Lies

By Agent Bedhead | Film | August 4, 2012 |

By Agent Bedhead | Film | August 4, 2012 |

Is this the summer of insufferable kid sequels or what? Here we go yet again. If you haven’t seen either of the previous two movies of this franchise or read the books, then you probably aren’t reading this review. So I’ll dispense with the formalities and just jump right in. The first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, which wasn’t awful but wasn’t enjoyable either, followed protagonist Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) throughout the discomfort of sixth grade; and the second movie revolved around his big brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), as Greg floundered through seventh grade in much the same manner. Like the other two movies, Dog Days follows the obligatory gimmick of featuring interludes from Greg’s journal, a tome filled with blue-lined paper, childish handwriting, and stick-figure drawings. Never mind that a tween boy isn’t likely to keep a diary in the first place, but whatever.

By this point, we get it — middle school sucks. Yet while parents are rolling their eyes at the juvenile antics of these characters, kids will still find kindred spirits in Greg and his best friend, Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron). Meanwhile, Greg’s older brother, Rodrick, still finds much joy in making Greg’s life a (semi-)living hell, and their parents, Susan (Rachael Harris) and Frank (Steve Zahn), are just as clueless as always. At least during this movie, the characters are on summer vacation (that is, after a requisite yearbook-signing disaster), so that shakes things up a little bit from the two previous installments.

As tween boys are fond of doing, Greg wants nothing more but to waste his entire summer away by sitting inside the air-conditioned family home and playing video games, but his dad insists that he actually, you know, do something with himself. So Greg pretends to secure a job working at the local country club where, of course, his enduring crush on classmate Holly (Peyton List) (who is really into tennis), can hopefully move forth. After Greg humiliates himself in front of Holly by pretending his Wii tennis skills equate to real ones, he ends up enduring a diving mishap and lands in the swimming pool without his swimming trunks in place. Then Dad decides that he and Greg should enjoy some father-son bonding on a camping trip. Presumably, all of these terrible punishments occur because Greg’s braggart ways don’t jibe with the truth. It’s all pretty stupid stuff but no different than the first two movies, really.

If you couldn’t tell, Greg’s developed quite a problem with, well, lying his ass off. He lies to his parents, and he lies to his friends, and he lies to the girl he wants to woo. So — SPOILER ALERT — that’s the major issue that the screenplay would hope to resolve, but the big emotional push at the end between father and son doesn’t have much oomph to it. Greg learns a few small lessons along the way too, but the script is just a means to an end. Again, this franchise has proved its worth as far as anecdotal fluff is concerned. The storylines are scrambled up, but I suppose that’s to be expected from a screenplay that attempts to follow a middle-school boy’s journal. Granted, Rodrick provides a few moments of genuine amusement, and overall, these movies aren’t that bad, really. Still, I feel like audiences deserve much better than to sit through a seemingly endless series based upon a snot-nosed kid. Granted, Greg’s not nearly as much of a nightmare as he was in the first movie, and he’s learned to treat poor Rowley with some semblance of dignity. There’s also a cute dog in this movie too if you’re into that sort of thing.

Now these Wimpy Kid movies sure are profitable, and since this movie explores the third and fourth books of the series, that still leaves three more (correct me if I’m wrong) for adaptation. The only problem there is that these kids are growing up pretty fast, and I have my doubts whether Zachary Gordon can continue to play Greg because, seriously, the dude is sounding like he’s about to be kicked out of Menudo or something. Likewise, Devon Bostick now looks far too old to be playing the admittedly amusing Rodrick. So will there be another Wimpy Kid movie to satisfy our mediocre cravings next summer? Who knows, but surely no one will know the difference if a fourth movie never arrives. Dog Days is an uneventful and unnecessary addition to this franchise, and its cast would be better suited moving onto better things as well.

Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.