Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
20th Century Fox // PG // August 3, 2012
Review by Jeff Nelson | posted August 2, 2012
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is the third entry of a film series, which is based on childhood novels by Jeff Kinney. I have never read any of them, but the books seem to be very popular among young readers. The first two movie adaptations were mediocre, at best. While children enjoy them, parents find the flaws too huge to ignore. The third film is slightly better than the first two. It abandons the direct-to-dvd feel seen in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. However, it doesn't manage to be something truly worth recommending as something the whole family could enjoy.

School is finally over and summer is just beginning. Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is ready for summer vacation and plans on playing video games and meeting up with his crush, Holly Hills (Peyton List). However, his dad, Frank Heffley (Steve Zahn), wants his son to be like other neighborhood kids and play outside all day. Meanwhile, Greg's mom, Susan Heffley (Rachael Harris), wants him to join a book club and read all summer long. Greg's brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), continues to tease and be rude to him. In an attempt to get away from his family, he takes advantage of his best friend, Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron), and attends the beautiful country club where he's able to bring Greg as a guest. He finds his summer getting worse at every turn, as he tries to stay out of trouble with his dad and have the summer he's been so excited for.

The majority of the film consists of attempting to create humor out of the embarrassing situations of adolescence. Of course, a lot of them are exaggerated for comic effect. This film is primarily composed of one uncomfortable situation after another. While some of them are chuckle-worthy, none of them are going to have you or your children laughing out loud. From an adult's point of view, this movie is generic and predictable, although it has some nice messages for younger audiences, such as why telling lies are bad and learning from your mistakes. From a child's perspective, this movie is an entertaining and enjoyable flick that may even warrant multiple viewings. Unfortunately, there isn't much here for teenagers and adults to enjoy. The strongest portions of this movie are when the filmmakers aren't trying to be funny through uncomfortable circumstances.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days has one main sequence that remains memorable in my mind. It takes place at the country club when Greg and Rowley are against Holly and her friend, Patty (Laine MacNeil), in a tennis match. Greg attempts to impress Holly by telling her that he plays tennis a lot, when he has never played before. She challenges him to a doubles match. As expected, the two boys fail miserably. The scene is successful with its physical humor and is actually funny. However, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is inconsistent for a lot of the running time. It attempts to get the audience to feel sympathy towards Greg, but he isn't a very likable character. He does stupid things to get himself into a lot of the horrible affairs, which removes almost all sympathy that I might have had towards his character. As for the supporting roles, a lot of them aren't utilized to their full potential. Greg's mom, Susan Heffley, should have received more screen time than she received. Her character actually has some humorous scenes, but she's absent through a lot of the motion picture. Even Rowley has his moments, but he's quickly removed when the film transitions back to Greg. It's such a shame that the supporting characters couldn't have been used to their full potential.

A bunch of characters have returned from the previous entry. Zachary Gordon is acceptable as the lead character. His growth as an actor is clear, especially now that he's gotten a bit older than he was in the original. Robert Capron delivers as Rowley Jefferson. I would be lying if I was to say there weren't a few scenes where his representation of the character didn't make me chuckle a few times. Peyton List is incredibly fake as Holly Hills. We're led to believe that she's an extremely kind and generous girl. Well, I was never once convinced of her persona. List feels so superficial that it's difficult to believe her at all. Steve Zahn is a bit difficult to believe as Frank Heffley. He feels a bit awkward here. In the very few scenes where Rachael Harris performs as Susan Heffley, she's good. She contains some of the better dialogue in the movie, and it's a bummer that she didn't get more of an opportunity to shine. The final main character is Rodrick Heffley, played by Devon Bostick. He does a fairly decent job with the material he's been given. While there aren't any great performances to be seen, the majority of them have improved over the previous entry.

From the beginning, Diary of a Wimpy Kid has never been a good movie franchise. They all play off of the same embarrassing jokes and repeat them over and over. Fortunately, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is an improvement over the last two entries. Adults will only see this if their children really want to go. There aren't many redeeming values for older audiences. The kids will enjoy this, but don't expect to walk out liking it as much as the younger audiences. Therefore, I recommend saving your money and not seeing this in theaters. Give this a rental once it hits DVD and Blu-ray for your kids. They may even want to see this more than once. It's worthy of a light weekend rental for the family. Regardless of what I say, fans of the books are sure to see this on the big screen. While this is a bit better than the first two movies, it still doesn't quite manage to entirely succeed.



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