Directed by: Thor Freudenthal
Premise: Adaptation of Jeff Kinney’s novel. A precocious teenage boy (Zachary Gordon) enters middle school and tries to rise in the school’s social ladder.
What Works: The child actors in this film are well cast, especially Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron, and Chloe Moretz and they give Diary of a Wimpy Kid a sense of reality that the film would not have if it were filled by recognizable teenage stars. The film captures the awkwardness of early adolescence and the obsession with status that often characterizes teenage culture. Although the lead character played by Zachary Gordon may be a little too smart and self aware for his age, Diary of Wimpy Kid has a sly sense of humor that mostly pays off, recalling the books of Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume.
What Doesn’t: Diary of a Wimpy Kid is predictable, as the lead character learns familiar lessons about friendship and honesty. And although Gordon’s character is smart and witty, he is also a jerk and the lessons he has to learn ought to be fairly obvious, even to a kid.
Bottom Line: Diary of a Wimpy Kid may be a fun film for pre-teenage and middle school audiences. The film does not have much in it for older audiences and for better or worse it plays very much like an after school special.
Episode: #282 (March 28, 2010)