Chances are, you didn’t even know there was a first one – but the pre-teens in your household will. Released just nine months ago, predecessor Diary of a Wimpy Kid was a surprise success and the rushed-out sequel suggests movie bigwigs were keen to milk this potential cash cow. But despite a formula that generally equates to a great dollop of convoluted tripe, this follow-up is actually rather good.
The film tells of the growing pains (both psychological and physiological) of Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) as he comes to terms with entering the seventh grade and deals with his failing efforts to impress the girl of his dreams, all the while contending with his parents attempts to encourage him and his brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) to get along.
The film hits just the right tone, and effortlessly manages to appeal to the age group it targets without alienating parents. And it achieves this without resorting to the multi-layered approach often adopted with kids’ films that depends on the incorporation of adult-friendly content designed to sail over children’s heads and make the viewing experience far more enjoyable for the parent.
Based on the book by Jeff Kinney, this movie sequel is sweet, fresh and funny and will really appeal to youngsters. Crucially, it taps into thoughts and feelings appropriate to the age of its main character, Greg, and therefore it resonates with its young audience. But it also resonates with its older one, who are reminded of the way they felt at the same age; being embarrassed by family, and feeling like a dork and a misfit at school.
Steve Zahn and Rachael Harris, as parents Frank and Susan Heffley, totally inhabit their roles as parents seen through the eyes of a seventh grader – and they’re so effective, even grown-up viewers will wince at the memories of their own feelings towards their mums and dads at the same age.
The rest of the cast does a great job at bringing their characters to cartoonish life – in particular Devon Bostick as Rodrick who plays the tormentor to his younger brother with glee.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is, quite simply, a great kids’ movie.