The Diary of a Wimpy Kid films aren’t the most important literary adaptations of recent times but their popularity is undeniable with the first two films generating a tidy $100 mill in pre-tween bucks.
The third film Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3: Dog Days sees the eponymous wimp Greg Scheffer (Zach Gordon) trying to deal with the dilemma of what to do over his summer holidays. In a fine example to young movie-goers he wants to sit inside all day playing video games and drinking litres of sody pop and maybe stalk his middle school crush Holly (Paton List). His bumbling Dad (Stephen Zahn) – who’s looking disturbingly like some sort of Viggo Mortensen/ Michael J Fox hybrid that the human centipede doctor might have created – wants him to risk beatings and bear attacks playing sport and camping. The wimpster decides his best strategy for preserving his summer of indolence is to lie to everyone and pretend he has a job at a snooty country club.
Whatever appeal these wimp films have for kids will be completely lost on adults. There’s no clear narrative just a jumble of incidents. While we would expect it to be episodic given the diary format of the books, the filmmakers should have given us something better than this rambling mess of a plot.
Also, the film’s attempts at humour almost invariably fall flat and only the most questionable of adults would laugh at an amiable kid being constantly humiliated. A more teen oriented sub-plot about Greg’s older Brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) trying to sleaze onto nasty alpha female Heather (Melissa Roxburgh) also fails to score any laughs. A supporting cast of nerd stereotypes including that Platonic ideal of the nerd, Fregley, barely contributes a laugh.
Perhaps most disappointingly, the film doesn’t generate a sense of warm nostalgia for our childhood. This is partly because it’s set in an idealised, golden hued, basically non-existent American suburbia.
To its credit Wimp 3 at least wasn’t garish and grating like its female equivalent the Judy Moody film.
While miserable middle-aged critics might find little to recommend in this film, kids will love it mainly because it contains the thing they enjoy most, adults falling over and hurting themselves.
Nick’s rating: Two stars.
Director(s): David Bowers
Release date: 20th September 2012
Running time: 94 mins.
- Film review: DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL by Nick Gardener from Built For Speed
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- Film review: GHOSTBUSTERS, from ‘Built For Speed’
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