The Austin Chronicle

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Rated PG, 92 min. Directed by Thor Freudenthal. Starring Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron, Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn, Connor Fielding, Owen Fielding, Devon Bostick, Chloe Moretz, Karan Brar, Grayson Russell.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 26, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is easily the smartest, snarkiest, and most honest depiction of that tweenage wasteland known as the “middle-school years" that this former wimpy freak and geek has come across since having survived the daily derision afforded those of us who chose to spend our lunch periods perusing J.R.R. Tolkien, playing Dungeons & Dragons, or just hiding out in the boys' room. Based on Jeff Kinney's popular illustrated series of children's books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is true – often painfully so – to its title. Having just graduated from sixth grade to the formidable fortress of middle school, Greg (Gordon) enters the zone confident in his ability to make the perilous transition from "little kid" to just plain "kid" but quickly discovers that the passage of even one single summer has the power to change everything. There's a supremely solid gag that has the previous semester's yearbook photos aligned side-by-side with their current, hairier, chestier, more menacing counterparts, and the changes are, indeed, alarming. But all is not chaos and purple nurples for our youthful protagonist. He still has his circle of friends, dweeby though they may be, and among them are the chubby, perpetually optimistic Rowley (Capron), Chirag (Brar), and a unexpected newcomer to anti-clique, the far-older-seeming tomboy Angie (Moretz), who is discovered sitting under the bleachers idly perusing, of all things, Allen Ginsberg's “Howl.” There's not a lot of narrative-driven plotting to Diary of a Wimpy Kid – it's ostensibly based on a diary (or journal, as its author frequently protests) after all. But it is comically true to the major embarrassments and minor heroisms of middle school. Take it from me. I was there.

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