Diary of a Wimpy Kid as reviewed in The Phantom TollboothThe Wimpy Kid novels for tweens are becoming almost as popular as the "Harry Potter" book series. Harry dealt with  magic to overcome obstacles in his life, while Greg, the middle school hero of "Wimpy Kid", as to come up with ideas of his own.


Greg is the middle brother, older one being Rodrick (teen and with a van and rock band) and younger brother being Manny (barely speaks and nothing but mischief.) As you see, Greg has his hands full. Parents are Steve Zahn and Rachel Harris who are generally clueless.

The film is made in a variety of skits featuring the most embarrassing thing that could happen to a kid. Tying the skits together are stick line cartoons, done for humor and plenty of one-liners. Basically, the story has Rodrick trying to earn enough money for the entry fee to a music contest. He is sure his band, Loded Diper, will win. Greg just tries to stay out of Rodrick’s way and the endless teasing and practical jokes. Little Manny is trying to become a younger version of Rodrick. One highlight of the film is when Rodrick and Greg spend a weekend with Grandpa at his retirement home. Rodrick steals Greg’s clothes at the swimming pool and Greg has to figure a way to get back to the room---and past the security cameras. Another is when Rodrick has a party at home when the parents are gone---and Greg and his friend Rowley (Robert Capron) get the best of Rodrick. Greg really likes Holly (Peyton List) but seems to fail in every attempt to get her attention. Just like middle school.  What I liked about this film is that, despite some crude humor (including the compulsory vomit scene), it stays within the PG rating. At the teen party, the kids conga dance and there are no drugs, alcohol or smoking. Siblings don’t have to hate each other and sometimes the other side of the fence isn’t so appealing after all.
Acting is OK with both Zachary Gordon and Devon Bostick going over the top. I could have used a little more of Steve Zahn as the Dad. The Loded Diper van steals every scene it is in (reference the comic strip: "Zits") The end credits are fun, using rock music and cartoons.  All in all, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules makes being a kid again lots of fun.
Copyright 2011 Marie Asner