As an older sibling, I know the fine line between family movies that adults can enjoy and the ones we see just for the kids. Though Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules falls into the latter category, children and pre-teens apparently can’t get enough of it. The Wimpy Kid book series is one of the select literary works that my 11-year-old brother Louis will read without a fuss: a fictional journal featuring a 12-year-old boy (Zachary Gordon) who deals with the same "life or death" issues that most middle-schoolers face.
“The title is pretty self-explanatory,” Louis told me. The story revolves around Greg Heffley and the trials and tribulations he has being a smaller-than-average 7thgrade boy. Greg enters the 7thgrade dealing with an excruciating crush on the leggy blonde new girl and his relationships at home -- a torturous older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), embarrassing and oblivious parents (Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn), and the sheer agony of being the middle child. Playful flashbacks and cartoons from the book series are interwoven between the narrative, accompanied by overly cheerful music and a world of pastels.
After some particularly severe arguments between Greg and Rodrick, their mother promises them “mom bucks” -- monopoly money to be exchanged for real cash if they spend time together and try to get along. Sixteen-year-old Rodrick isn’t having any of it, though, and spends most of the film finding innovative ways to ruin Greg’s life. When their parents decide to go on a trip without them, Rodrick throws a massive party and locks Greg in the basement. When Greg outsmarts him and joins in on the fun, the brothers start to get along over an uncharacteristically innocent high school bash. There’s no booze to be seen, and their rebellious behavior includes eating whipped cream straight out of the can, chugging soda, and a full-on conga line.
This, perhaps, is why I liked this movie for my little brother. These problems are so much easier to tackle than what comes next, when boys and girls hit their teen years and don’t laugh so easily at fart jokes and TP'd houses. This target demographic doesn’t really care that the parents are more of a plot point than three-dimensional characters, or that the dialogue grows wooden and tiresome. They like seeing their issues projected on a clever, everyday narrator who makes being a “wimpy kid” cool. The age range between child and teen is a confusing one; adults don’t always take you seriously, but bullying, school projects, and family annoyances seem huge and overwhelming. Parents with kids under 13 should snatch this one up before their little ones feel "too cool" to enjoy it.
The Blu-ray package includes a standard DVD and digital copy, along with an array of special features. Kids will enjoy “My Summer Vacation” bonus shorts -- eight clips of the main characters recounting their brief stints away from middle school. Ten deleted scenes, a gag reel and alternate ending provide even more outrageous moments, while author Jeff Kinney and director David Bowers supply special commentary.
For Fans Of: Diary of a Wimpy Kid