Director: David Bowers
Cast: Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Robert Capron, Steve Zahn, Rachael Harris
For those unfamiliar with Jeff Kinney's cartoon books, Diary of Wimpy Kid sounds like a film about a series of trips to your local fast food restaurant. But there's not a Bender in a Bun in sight here - this sequel's humour works on a simpler level, the kind that an 8 year old can see without blushing. And that's why parents should take them to see it. There's no story to follow, but Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is innocently silly enough to make even the grumpiest adult chuckle.
Greg Heffley (Gordon) is back at school after the summer holidays, ready for another year of classroom embarrassments and ritual brotherly bullying. Muddling through with his best friend Rowley (Capron), Greg faces big obstacles in life, from having to read his note aloud in class to getting stuck in the middle of the roller skating rink when the loud music comes on. In between, he suffers regular assaults from older sibling Rodrick (Bostick).
It's inoffensive but rather likeable thanks to the lively cast. Switching from animated asides to surreal live-action, Zachary Gordon talks to the camera with all the easygoing charisma of a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He's well supported by Steve Zahn's deadpan dad, who spends more time mugging than the kids from Attack the Block, while Robert Capron's sidekick wears a false moustache with the best of them.
But it's called Rodrick Rules for a reason: Devon Bostick is an excellent talent. He manages to be menacing, funny and stroppy without over-using the eyeliner. Greg and Rodrick's natural bond creates a few genuine laughs, despite the fact that the script is a complete mess.
You can't blame Fox for rushing out a second Diary after the strong success of the last one, but a little more time writing a plot and a little less time thinking up silly sketches would have made a massive difference. Not that your kids will notice. They'll be too busy laughing at the melted chocolate stain on Greg's trousers. Which looks like poo. Tee hee, giggle.
Playing out like Malcolm in the Middle on a diet, Diary of Wimpy Kid 2 is a harmless bit of slapstick entertainment. It lacks the wit of that other budding journalist Adrian Mole, but it makes up for it with a hysterical horror movie pastiche called The Foot. And that chocolate covered bum thing. Giggle.
A loosely tied string of sketches, Diary of Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is forgettable fun for the whole family.
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