This is the second movie based on the wildly popular series of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney. Last year, in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, we saw Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) begin the agonizing experience of middle school. This movie opens with Greg and his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) starting their second year in middle school, convinced that everything is going to be different. They have learned from their experiences and torments of their first year, and now begin their second year all grown up and sophisticated.
It doesn’t take them long to discover that an entirely new catalog of horrors is awaiting them. They’re all here: the embarrassment in front of the pretty new girl in class, the embarrassment in the school cafeteria, the embarrassment at the hands of bullies after school at the skating rink, the embarrassment caused by that suspiciously located stain on your pants, the embarrassment from the over protective mother, the embarrassment from the intercepted note in class, the embarrassment from mistakenly walking into the wrong restroom…it’s hard to think of a single childhood humiliation that has been omitted from this comprehensive inventory. Many of these situations are divided by age group. Greg is hounded by his three-year-old brother who just wants to play with the bigger boys, while Greg in turn hounds his older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) because Greg is curious about what goes on at “high school parties.” All of the kids in turn had situations with their parents, and a different set of issues with grandparents living at a home for seniors.
Halfway through this movie, Rodrick hisses to Greg, “You’re my brother, but you’ll never be my friend.” And yet, there is progress. Gradually, Greg forms alliances with family members. He and his brother protect each other. He and his mother reach understandings and enter into pacts. This is not just a repeat of the first year of middle school after all.
Kinney does a good job of remembering and portraying these childhood traumas. School children will laugh and groan in recognition of these misfortunes and will take heart from the fact that Greg somehow
manages to survive them all. Adults may cringe at some long dormant feelings, re-awakened by this movie, and feel more sympathy for the burdens of their school aged children.
Parents should know that this film includes potty humor and gross-out material and some schoolyard scuffles and insult language.
Family discussion: What caused Greg and Rodrick to cooperate? Why did
Greg choose to help Rodrick at the talent show? Were Greg and his
mother right to keep secrets?
If you like this, try: “Alice Upside-Down” and the Wimpy Kid books — and try keeping a journal!