With amusing insights into pre-teen neurosis reminiscent of the Peanuts comics, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid films, which are based on the hit Jeff Kinney books, have been a refreshing addition to the kid/ family film landscape. They have, however, provided diminishing returns with the standard declining after the very funny first film. That slide continues with the latest instalment The Long Haul.
It’s been five years since the last Wimpy Kid feature, Dog Days and the eponymous wimp Greg Heffley is no longer played by Zachary Gordon but instead youngster Jason Drucker. Oddly, the entire main cast has also changed with Alicia Silverstone taking over the roll of Greg’s mum.
This film sees the family unwisely head off on a road trip to attend grandma’s birthday. Not surprisingly the hapless family are beset with disasters including a Hitchcockian bird attack and harassment by a disgusting white trash family. Most of the calamities are due to Greg’s innocent bumbling and his attempts to sneak off to attend a nearby gaming festival hosted by his hero, an obnoxious catchphrase-spouting slob who should not be allowed around children.
There are sporadically funny moments where adult sensibilities shine through such as a scene at a grotty motel at which the family are forced to stay that for some reason features paintings of clowns that look like John Wayne Gacy.
Unfortunately, a lot of the wit and observational humour that made the first Wimpy Kid film such a treat has been replaced with loud, over-the-top sight gags and pratfalls of the kind we see in just about every run-of-the mill kid’s film.
With its road trip setting the film becomes a more family-friendly version of National Lampoon’s Vacation and while well short of the Chevy Chase original, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is, if nothing else, at least better than the horrendous Jason Sudeikis remake.
Nick’s rating: **1/2
Director(s): David Bowers.
Release date: 29th June 2017.
Running time: 91 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show
- What’s on ‘Built For Speed’, Friday 7th July 2017
- Film review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3 – Dog Days, from Built For Speed
- Film review: VACATION, from ‘Built For Speed’
- Film review: THE GUILT TRIP, from Built For Speed
- Film review: WE’RE THE MILLERS, from Built For Speed