Sunday, March 20, 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Eye Power

About a year ago I was tickled pink with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a film adapted from the first book of a successful series by Jeff Kinney. I suppose it did decent business worldwide to warrant a follow up film, adapting from the second book in the series called Rodrick Rules, where the premise is focused more on within the Heffley family, in particular between Greg (Zachary Gordon), now in seventh grade, and his older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick), while yet still holding onto its quirky comedy and shenanigans set in school.

David Bowers, who did Flushed Away and Astro Boy, takes over from Thor Freudenthal to direct this installment of the wimpy kid, though still retaining some signature elements such as the animation design which come directly from the books. We're reintroduced to the Heffley family, and it's pretty amazing how the sheer amount of incidents and subplots start to take their own life, providing slices of life moments from puppy love to sibling rivalry. There's Greg's infatuation with new student Holly Hills (Peyton List) with whom he tries too hard to get acquainted with, his friendship with best friend Rowley (Rober Capron) taking a hit because he refuses to be Rowley's sidekick for a magic show in the town's talent contest, and the continuing bullying of Rodrick on Greg, one which culminated in the latter running around in his underwear at an old folks home.

Those are but three of the many comical situations found in this installment, coupled with a house party that cannot be mentioned, but of course there's no smoke without fire, and what worked here is that most times things get set up for the fall only much later, coming in as sucker punches complete with rip tickling delivery. There's no wasted scene in the film, and everything sprawls out and collapses back nicely, in part I guess having a source material laying out a roadmap for the narrative to follow, with nice little easter egg touches that connects this film to its predecessor, such as the remnants of the Cheese Touch.

Don't expect very sophisticated direction here, as it may look and feel like an extended sitcom episode. But in all honesty the little tales that make up this film are nothing to scoff at, made all the more fun by the myriad of side characters / caricatures. There are still three more books to go, and I'm unsure if they will be turned into movies, though if they do, it better be fast before the child actors all grow up. Definitely recommended, and for its targeted demographics, I'm sure this will speak volumes to them, especially on its message of blood being thicker than water, and how siblings, no matter the rivalry, will always be subject to a quick patch up.

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