Diary of a Wimpy Kid, based on the successful children’s book series of the same name, is an amusing effort, but one which is perhaps fighting a losing battle from the start. While a decent helping of fun, and sure to provide a handful of laughs for the appropriate audience, something seems lost is translation here, and it may be a result of the book’s specific imagination-friendly positives.
Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is about to enter middle school, and beyond the normal host of dread events that are life in public school for a stature-challenged American, Greg also has best friend Rowley to deal with. Rowley is the textbook example of how to get beat up in school, complete with glowing bicycle, and he’s thwarting any chance Greg has of moving up the school’s popularity scale.
Adding to the stresses of his daily life, Greg’s older brother offer up his own helping of torment and ridicule. With little idea how to muddle through, Greg latches onto any idea that comes along, usually with disastrous results. From wrestling to the school’s updated spin on hall monitors, our hero finds that the dog-eat-dog world is a lot more difficult to navigate than he’d believed, and ultimately that he probably had a lot more going for him than he thought he did.
It’s a fun adventure, with a keen eye toward the mindset and inner workings of not only middle schoolers in general, but the less noticeable ones in particular, and walking the halls with a wild, comic eye is not without its merits. Still, there is some level of the spirit of the books that doesn’t come through, and a good deal of the story feels a bit hollow.
Kids of the appropriate age are likely to enjoy it, but this one falls short of its potential.
The Cheesiest Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Special Features:
The special features are somewhat limited, but include Greg’s Deleted Diary Pages, which is a collection of deleted scenes and other excerpts, Rowley’s Lost Zoo-Wee Mama Cartoons, and a commentary with director Thor Freudenthal and writer Gabe Sachs.
The commentary track focuses almost exclusively on discussion of the translation, and trying to get the look and feel of the film right. We get a sort of deconstruction of elements and scenes, and while a pretty interesting, if standard, effort, it isn’t exactly the commentary one might expect from a children’s film. The rest of the special features are pretty self-explanatory, and the deleted bites deliver a good bit of value.
Overall, the value of the release is probably in direct proportion to the interest one already has in the series. It’s definitely worth a viewing, but everyone who needs to own it already knows who they are.
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Based on the best-selling illustrated novel by Jeff Kinney, the family comedy Diary of a Wimpy Kid arrives on Blu-ray Disc/DVD Combo Pack and DVD August 3 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film chronicles the adventures of wisecracking pre-teen Greg Heffley, who must somehow survive the scariest time of anyone’s life… middle school. Convinced it’s the “dumbest idea ever invented,” Heffley considers junior high school a place rigged with hundreds of social landmines, not the least of which are wedgies, swirlies, bullies, lunchtime banishment of the cafeteria floor and a festering piece of cheese with nuclear cooties that he must overcome to become popular. His diary – or “journal” – chronicles his thoughts, tales of family trials and tribulations, and (would be) schoolyard triumphs.
From its origins as a series of online cartoons, Diary of a Wimpy Kid exploded onto the pop culture scene when Jeff Kinney’s first novel was published in 2007. Selling over 30 million copies in print, Diary of a Wimpy Kid spent almost three years on The New York Times’ children’s best-seller list and has been translated into 33 languages.
From director Thor Freudenthal (Hotel for Dogs) and producer Nina Jacobson (The Game Plan), Diary of a Wimpy Kid features rising stars Zachary Gordon (National Treasure: Book of Secrets), Robert Capron (Bride Wars) and Rachael Harris (The Hangover), as well as Steve Zahn (“Treme”). The Diary of a Wimpy Kid “The Cheesiest Edition” Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack includes the film on Blu-ray, DVD and as a digital copy all custom packaged with additional cartoon pages. Both the Blu-ray and DVD include “Greg’s Deleted Diary Pages”, which bring the diary to life with all-new, never-before-seen hysterical moments not included in the feature film such as a rundown of the benefits of the Cheese Touch, more gross, silly Fregley fun, and Rowley’s lost Zoo-Wee Mama cartoons.