Wimpy sequel is a Long Haul movie ex­pe­ri­ence

The Province - - ENTERTAINMENT - TINA HASSANNIA

Re­mem­ber Diary of a Wimpy Kid? That’s OK, nei­ther do I — though I vaguely re­call a book cover fea­tur­ing a frowny-faced stick fig­ure. That book, writ­ten and sketched by Jeff Kin­ney, about the tri­als and tribu­la­tions of Greg Hef­fley’s lonely pre­teen boy­hood, be­came a se­ries, and then a movie fran­chise.

It’s been five years since the last film of the se­ries, Dog Days, pre­sum­ably be­cause each of the Wimpy Kid films made less money than its pre­de­ces­sor. So it’s worth ask­ing why Fox re­sus­ci­tated a dud that’s so long out of date the char­ac­ters in the new film are played by dif­fer­ent ac­tors. Re­gard­less, here we are with The Long Haul — which per­fectly de­scribes the view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

In the world of Long Haul, fe­cal mat­ter and farts are funny, the Spice Girls are un­cool and bearded, stocky men are cruel child as­saulters. This is a movie de­signed for six-year-olds, but still man­ages to in­sult even their in­tel­li­gence.

The tit­u­lar wimpy kid Greg (Ja­son Drucker) is be­ing forced to spend his sum­mer days on a tech­nol­ogy-free road trip or­ga­nized by his well-mean­ing mother Su­san (Ali­cia Sil­ver­stone) so the Hef­fley fam­ily can spend some qual­ity time to­gether driv­ing to great-grand­mother Meemaw’s 90th birth­day cel­e­bra­tion. Su­san’s zero-tol­er­ance ban on all de­vices wears down not only Greg, but also his older brother Ro­drick (Char­lie Wright) and their workaholic fa­ther Frank (Tom Everett Scott), who sneaks away to send emails.

When a video of Greg goes vi­ral af­ter he picks up a used di­a­per in an in­door play­ground, he plans to re­gain his pop­u­lar­ity by record­ing him­self play­ing video games be­side a YouTube celebrity. Di­a­per Hands reroutes the car’s GPS to a nearby gam­ing con­ven­tion, where his idol Mac Digby (Joshua Hoover) is set to ap­pear. The plan goes south be­fore the young­ster learns his les­son about not let­ting Mom down.

Greg is re­spon­si­ble for many of the mishaps that come to de­fine the Hef­fleys’ road trip. Miss­ing paci­fiers, a shriek­ing tod­dler, mo­tel squalor, Cheeto-lov­ing seag­ull at­tacks, fart­ing piglets — these all make up some of the more colour­ful mo­ments. Other inanity in­volves slo-mo pro­jec­tile vomit and the en­tire run­time of a man tak­ing an ex­tremely au­di­ble dump off-screen. Fab­u­lous.

The film’s wall-to-wall gags are in­suf­fer­able. By the time the fam­ily gets to their des­ti­na­tion, they’re mud­died and cov­ered in seag­ull feathers and dung, yet some­how the au­di­ence is more tired than they are. It’s ironic that Greg poo-poos his mom’s sug­ges­tion of reading books, be­cause that’s ex­actly the al­ter­na­tive ac­tiv­ity kids should do in­stead of watch­ing The Long Haul.

— 20TH CEN­TURY FOX

Char­lie Wright, left, and Ja­son Drucker star in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.

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