Sunday, March 27, 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Adolescent Angst and Sibling Rivalry Escalate in Fun-Filled Sequel

Geeky Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) has resigned himself to returning to Westmore Middle School after spending most of the 6th grade getting picked-on by bullies. At least the scrawny, 98-pound weakling and his beefier best friend, Rowley (Robert Capron), have buried the hatchet, even if they remain social outcasts as they start the 7th. Nevertheless, they’re not quite as ostracized as some of their fellow nerds, like the totally-clueless Fregley (Grayson Russell) and the equally-odd Chirag Gupta (Karan Brar).
At the beginning of the fall semester, Greg, who reached puberty over vacation, develops a crush on a cute classmate, Holly Hills (Peyton List). Unfortunately, the object of his affection, barely notices her awkward admirer, a sign that Greg could be in for another, very long school year.
Meanwhile, the lovesick lad is just as miserable at home, between being tormented mercilessly by his older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), and being tattled on by his younger one, Manny (Connor Fielding). Compounding the problem is their meddling mother’s (Rachael Harris) futile attempt to discourage sibling rivalry by rewarding her sons with “Mom Bucks” for spending time with each other.
“Now, Rodrick can get paid for beating me up!” an exasperated Greg complains about the big brother he says is “The King of Laziness, except when it comes to torturing me.” Is it any wonder, then, that when their misguided mom’s pressure to bond backfires, Greg retreats to his bedroom to fantasize about being adopted by a billionaire couple?
Such frustrations ought to sound familiar to fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise, for this rib-tickling sequel reestablishes the original’s premise. And it also trades in the same sort of teasing, slapstick and bodily-function humor most likely to resonate with the ‘tweener demographic.
Directed by David Bowers (Astro Boy), the movie is based on the second installment of the best-selling series of children’s novels written and illustrated by cartoonist Jeff Kinney. To his credit, Bowers managed to reassemble the principal cast, most notably, Zachary Gordon and Devon Bostick, as the ever-antagonistic siblings at the heart of the tale.
This go-round, Rodrick enjoys center stage, literally and figuratively, as the drummer of a heavy metal, garage band called Loded Diper. The group is gearing up to compete for the $1,000 grand prize in their hometown of Plainview’s Most Talented contest.
However, when Rod throws a wild party in the house while his parents are out of town, the proverbial fly lands in the ointment after Greg inadvertently lets the cat out of the bag upon their return. Rodrick blames his brother when he’s subsequently grounded, and the tension builds as the day of the concert approaches.
Will Rod be granted an 11th hour reprieve and be permitted to perform or will he remain angry at Greg forever after? Far be it from this critic to spoil a cliffhanger beyond a reminder that this flick is rated PG. Let’s just say, that wimps still rule in this upside-down universe where it’s cool to be square!

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG for mischief and rude humor.
Running time: 90 Minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox

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