DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: RODRICK RULES - Childish
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: RODRICK RULES (family comedy)
Cast: Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Robert Capron, Steve Zahn, Rachael Harris, Peyton List, Ben Hollingsworth, Robert Capron, Michelle Harrison and Grayson Russell
Director: David Bowers
Screenplay by: Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, based on the book by Jeff Kinney
Time: 96 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: Unlike the original Wimpy Kid film released last year, this sequel looks like a rush job. It is not as fun or funny - and we get the feeling that the film-makers are rushing to complete the sequel before its lead cast get too old for their roles. Except for one or two sequences (like the one where Greg gets trapped in the ladies' restroom in just his underwear), the comedy looks tired and predictable.
SYNOPSIS: Greg Heffley (Zackary Gordon) enters seventh grade with renewed zest and interest - romantic interest. This is for new girl Holly Hills (Peyton List) whom he meets at a roller skating party. However, when he turns to his high school brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) for advice, Rodrick torments Greg instead. The boys’ mother, Susan (Rachael Harris), devises a way to get them to bond as brothers by bribing them. The scheming Rodrick sees it as a money-making venture and uses Greg for his own interests.
HITS & MISSES: This is another example of what works with books need not necessary work on the screen. Okay, I will admit that adolescent fans of Jeff Kinney's book series may enjoy the movie(s), but those who have not read the books will find the movie rather childish and, worse, a repeat of what they have seen on television. Indeed, the gags are not that original - and even the big bully brother stuff get stale after a while.
As the protagonist, Gordon looks older but has not lost the impish charm that makes us root for him. Still, it is Robert Capron who gets our sympathy as the roly-poly Rowley whom Greg uses as a foil in his shenanigans. Steve Zahn, who plays Greg's dad, has little to do other than look bug-eyed perplexed at the kids, while Rachael Harris does a wonderful rendition of Tina Fey, especially at the ending. Fans of Chloe Moretz would miss her in this sequel as her character, Angie Steadman, has been dropped (probably because it is not part of Kinney's original novel).
Peyton List, who takes over as Greg's love interest, does not seem to have a personality while Laine MacNeil reprises her role as the class show-off Patty Parrell. Grayson Russell often steals the show as the dorky Fregley. David Bowers (of Astro Boy fame) replaces Thor Freudenthal as director, but he seem to rely too much on contrivance instead of making the gags 'flow naturally.
THE LOWDOWN: Looks like it's going to make a quick kill before heading for the DVD market.