What with the fact that anybody not grown to maturity in a government lab knows all about the awkwardness and indignity of going from being a child to being a teenager – especially when the educational process is involved – viewers of all ages will find a lot to like in the new kids' flick “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”
Based on the mega-selling series of books by author and illustrator Jeff Kinney, “Diary” follows the adventures of 'tween Greg Hefley (Zachary Gordon) as he dodges the slings and arrows of being a new middle schooler. Adding to the problem are Hefley's near-Satanic older brother Roderick (Devon Bostick) and his clumsy, clueless friend Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron).
My kid is nuts about Kinney's books, and while I've only read the first volume in the Wimpy Kid series, I can tell you that Gordon, Bostick and Capron are pretty much perfectly cast in their roles. Bostick's Roderick is slimily perfect as the sibling/tormentor stuck in his own brand of teenage hell –- wearing too much hair gel and drumming in a terrible garage band called Loded Diaper. Capron, meanwhile, is also an absolute delight as Hefley's long-suffering friend Rowley, who is as honest and forthright as he is immature; always willing to be his pal's punching bag when Greg leads him down the path of temptation. The old Daffy Duck/Porky Pig cartoons come to mind, with Capron firmly owning the Porky Pig role with deliberate glee. Less successful, though not by a lot, is Gordon, who understandably has a lot of weight to carry as Kinney's often-self-centered and not-too-likeable anti-hero. Gordon, while good, just doesn't completely do justice to Hefley for me. He seems a bit stiff, though I suspect he will loosen up as the inevitable Wimpy Kid sequels are made.
In the end, my own “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” fanatic — who is 10, and who has read all the books at least twice — gave the movie a four out of five stars. For my part, I think that both parents and kids alike will find things to laugh at in “Diary,” be they jokes in the movie or at some of the things that will send even the oldest viewer whirling back to the world of elementary and middle school, where logic often goes out the window in favor of stuff like cooties – seen here as this film's infamous “Cheese Touch” (and no, I'm not going to try and explain that). It's a heck of a good time, especially if you've got a kid to share the popcorn with.