Di­ary wimps out on hu­mour

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

HY are the Di­ary of a Wimpy Kid movies so much less fun, and funny, than the best of the books cre­ated by Jeff Kin­ney?

On the page, Kin­ney’s il­lus­tra­tions, those stick-fig­ure hu­mil­i­a­tions and angsty mar­gin doo­dles al­legedly drawn by the ex­as­per­ated pro­tag­o­nist Greg Hef­fley hold the key to why Wimpy Kid took off with so many mil­lions of young and angsty seek­ers of hu­mil­i­a­tion com­edy.

Per­pet­ual, grind­ing set­backs and mas­sive, why-me? pre­teen in­jus­tices are fun­nier in stick­fig­ure form. Some­how all that snark, all those red-faced set­backs, turn to in­dis­tinct and slightly sour mush in a live-ac­tion set­ting.

Kids will go to the movies re­gard­less, but it’s too bad these films aren’t live­lier.

The first two films (mod­estly bud­geted, and rightly so) did well, so here we have Di­ary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, a con­fla­tion of books three and four.

The nar­ra­tive re­quires fret­ful, dis­sem­bling Greg to lie throughout and pay the price be­fore learn­ing a les­son or two about be­ing a less fret­ful, dis­sem­bling ver­sion of him­self.

Greg is played once again by the tal­ented Zachary Gor­don, now with newly changed voice. It’s sum­mer va­ca­tion, and Greg wants only to spend his days video gam­ing. But Dad (Steve Zahn) has plans to school Greg in the won­ders of Wilder­ness Ex­plor­ers camp­ing; his mum (Rachael Har­ris) starts up a Lit­tle Women book club; and Greg’s pal Row­ley (Robert Capron, straight from play­ing young Curly in the re­cent Three Stooges movie) sneaks Greg into his coun­try club so Greg can be around Holly (Pey­ton List), the nice girl who teaches tennis, and whose older sis­ter is such a bully you keep wait­ing for the mo­ment when pa­tient Holly snaps.

As di­rected by David Bow­ers (who did the sec­ond film), the movie never finds the height­ened state of comic anx­i­ety that fu­els the books. The ac­tors, many of them ex­cel­lent, pop their eyes and pro­long their re­ac­tions and their tim­ing goes amiss. Here and there, in the fa­ther/son scenes, you see a glim­mer of an hon­est in­ter­ac­tion.

A scene from

– a con­fla­tion of books three and four.

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