Movie Reviews

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Zachary Gordon as Greg Heffley
Steve Zahn as Frank Heffley
Robert Capron as Rowley Jefferson
Devon Bostick as Rodrick Heffley
Rachael Harris as Susan Heffley
Peyton List as Holly Hills
Grayson Russell as Fregley
Karan Brar as Chirag
Laine MacNeil as Patty Farrell
Connor Fielding as Manny Heffley
Owen Fielding as Manny Heffley
Melissa Roxburgh as Heather Hills
Phil Hayes as Stan Warren
Terence Kelly as Grandpa Heffley
Bronwen Smith as Mrs. Jefferson

Directed by David Bowers

Summary:
Kids will enjoy "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days," but adults may be bored with the subject material aimed at pre-teens and the fractured plotline.

Story:
This is the third "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" film. It is based on the fourth book in the series by Jeff Kinney.

At the beginning of summer vacation, Greg wants to do nothing more than sit inside and play video games for days on end. That, and get closer to classmate Holly Hills. Unfortunately, his Dad has other plans. Frank thinks that Greg should be outdoors, playing sports, and bonding with his dear old dad.

In an effort to dodge his father, Greg joins his best friend Rowley for an outing at his parents' country club. There he discovers an incredible swimming pool, luxury amenities, and, most importantly, his crush Holly. Greg concocts a scheme to return to the club every day, but things eventually go wrong for the wimpy kid. How will he survive the dog days of summer?

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" is rated PG for some rude humor.

What Worked:
My sons were pretty big "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" fans a couple of years ago, but for whatever reason, they grew out of it. I don't know if someone made fun of the books at school or what, but they were adamant that they didn't want to see this movie. And like any good dad, I dragged them to the film anyway. Despite their reluctance to see it, they did enjoy it.

The things that worked in the previous films are still working here. You still have the gross-out humor. This time around it includes kids peeing in a pool, Greg losing his swimsuit at the country club, a dog slobbering on a dinner roast, and other fun things. These were all crowd pleasers. Also back for more is the antagonistic older brother Rodrick and his ridiculously bad band. They provide a lot of laughs as his increasing incompetence is spotlighted. But as far as I'm concerned, the real MVP of the film is Steve Zahn as Frank Heffley. You can tell he's working hard to generate laughs and provide something relatable to parents. And when you pair him with an adopted, troublesome dog, the film is at its best.

What Didn't Work:
Though there are a few good laughs here for adults, this is a movie aimed squarely at kids. It can tend to be a bit dull unless the themes of oppressive older siblings, playing video games, and dealing with annoying parents speak to you on some level. But otherwise this movie is squarely aimed at its target audience – pre-teens.

Matters aren't helped by the fact that they seem to be trying to pack too many sub-plots into one film. You have Greg dealing with his meddling dad. You have Greg trying to flirt with Holly. You have the country club storyline. Then you have a side story with Greg being dragged into the equivalent of the Boy Scouts. Then there's another story about the adoption of a dog. Then there's friction between Greg and Rowley and Rowley's parents. They're trying to do so much in this movie that it feels like a series of shorter films all pieced together. And, unfortunately, just as one of the stories start clicking, they drop it and jump over to another storyline that may or may not work well. A good example is the sub-plot involving the adopted dog. The troublesome dog generates a lot of laughs, but almost as soon as he appears, he's forgotten again. They should have taken time to develop one of the better sub-plots more. In short, this movie is all over the place.

They also might want to call this "Diary of a Whiny Kid." Zachary Gordon as Greg Heffley does nothing but complain through the whole movie. And the vast majority of his problems are created by himself. He becomes less and less of a sympathetic character as the movie progresses. And now that his voice is changing and he's a teenager, it's less and less endearing. In a movie like this, it's good for the hero to be likable. He isn't here.

The Bottom Line:
While parents will find "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" tolerable, this movie is primarily for pre-teen fans of the book series.

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