Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
Directed by David Bowers. Starring Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Rachael Harris, Robert Capron, Steve Zahn. (2011, PG, 96 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., April 1, 2011
Based on Jeff Kinney’s bestselling illustrated book series for children, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is the fast-tracked sequel to last year's breakout hit Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The wimpy kid in question is Greg Heffley (Gordon), a slightly runty seventh-grader and the tormented little brother of the title's teenaged Rodrick (Bostick, appealingly goofy). In Kinney's stick-figure drawings, Greg is portrayed as a sad-faced sloucher, but Wimpy Kid's filmmakers have gone off-book, so to speak, to inflect Greg with a surprising cruel streak. Although the target audience skews slightly older here, it's hard not to compare Rodrick Rules with last summer's Ramona and Beezus: Both are about the plight of the middle child, as well as what it's like to be a square peg in a round-hole kind of world. But Ramona and Beezus did so with sweetness and humor not rooted in disposable pop culture, whereas Rodrick Rules' most fruitful gag homages the YouTube hit "Fat Kid Singing Lada Gaga" with Greg's chubby, kind-hearted best friend Rowley (Capron) lip-synching to Ke$ha. Them's pretty shallow waters.