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Frazzled parents of the tween boys (and girls) of summer, your cinematic savior has arrived. And, not surprisingly, it is so not Katy Perry, or – shudder – Hannah Montana. No, when it comes to family fare that's guaranteed to offend absolutely no one and, indeed, has some actual, non-scatalogically inclined humor and a serious message about father/son communication skills, you will rejoice in this third adaptation of the bestselling Young Adult author Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid series. It's funny without being in any way condescending to its target audience, is smartly penned by screenwriters Gabe Sachs and Jeff Juday, and on the whole, is pretty much fun. Parents looking for some cineplex fare that doesn't involve a major metropolitan area being trashed by superpeeps in capes ’n' spandex, this is what you've been searching for.
Continuing the daily travails of self-proclaimed "wimpy kid" Greg (Gordon) and his best friend Manny (Connor and Owen Fielding), and pal Chirag (Brar), this outing finds the trio off-leash for summer vacation. For Greg, that means playing video games 24/7, but for his dad Frank (Zahn, excellent), it means getting the kid a summer job and scouting in the great outdoors. The generational clash o' fun comes to a head when wimpy Greg, crushin' on supernice tween tennis ace Holly Hills (List), lies to his pop about his new "job" at Holly and Manny's posh country club. Meanwhile, older brother Roderick (Bostick) has entered full teen-emo mode and has his own six-string heartache to deal with.
Warm-hearted (if often predictable) and sporting nicely unforced messages on the topics of father/son relationships and how love (even puppy love) makes fools of us all, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is probably the most inoffensive kid's film you're likely to see this summer. And that's a good thing.