A Long Haul that is very short on humour
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul Director: David Bowers Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Tom Everett Scott, Jason Drucker Poor Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott. Between Clueless and That Thing You Do! they separately fronted two of the most charming and re- watchable comedies of the 1990s.
Twenty-odd years later, they have been relegated to the thankless task of playing dopey suburban parents in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, a deeply unfunny family roadtrip film that features grossout jokes to rival the R- rated Vacation remake.
At least they are spared having someone vomit in their mouths. This does happen to another character – and director David Bowers shows us it in slow-motion. It’s not 3-D, but might as well be.
This is technically the fourth Wimpy Kid film based on cartoonist Jeff Kinney’s popular books about awkward middle schooler Greg.
The Long Haul reboots the series with a new cast, including Silverstone, Scott, Jason Drucker as Greg, an internet sensation, and Charlie Wright as his 16- year- old brother Rodrick. They hop in a minivan, with toddler Manny, to travel cross country to a relative’s 90th birthday party. Not only is the Heffley amily stuck together in a confined space for 47 hours but Mum has banned all their devices.
Greg has other things on his mind, though – how to become internet famous. He already is a viral sensation, after he was filmed freaking out when he inadvertently pulls a used nappy out of a ball pit.
He hopes to improve his image by appearing in a video with a PewDiePie- like gamer who will be at a convention “two inches away” on the map from where the family is travelling to.
It’s an appropriately vulgar subplot for a story that seems more disdainful of the messiness of the family experience than celebratory of it. According to this movie, nearly everything about family life is a disgusting, dispiriting horror show.
The Heffleys are forced to endure a series of relentless, ever-escalating indignities.
It would be nice to think that Silverstone and Scott might be able to lift any film out of a ditch with their comedic talents. Alas, they are stuck in neutral – Silverstone as an underappreciated Mum whose forced smiles wobble as though she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and Scott as the ineffective patriarch too scared to tell his wife he hasn’t requested holiday time for the trip.
The children, too, are endlessly annoying and barely sympathetic. The series should go back to the drawing board.
Lindsey Bahr / AP
Jason Drucker as Greg.