"It is wise to remember that this is, by all means and purposes, a film about kids and for kids, and one to watch only if you're nine, or with your nine year old..."
One of the reasons the Diary of A Wimpy Kid saga of books by Jeff Kinney have proved so popular amongst tweens and children is that from the issues they deal with to the characters they portray, they speak directly to their young audience.
So do the movies - and this is something you'd better remember in case you decide to watch the second and newest instalment.
Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules takes us back to the world of kid-next-door Greg Heffley, who is getting ready to go back to middle school after summer break. Having overcome the trauma of his first year, Greg is feeling more confident around his friends but not at home, where his rivalry with big brother Rodrick gets stronger day after day. Rodrick likes making his life difficult, Greg feels defenseless and bullied, and they both refuse to acknowledge their parents' pleas to get along. Mum Susan insists that they mend their relationship and comes up with a cash incentive to encourage them to spend time together - not realising though that, between first crushes, teenage house parties and talent shows, Rodrick is more interested in the money than in becoming friends with his brother, and Greg just wants his older sibling to stop teasing him.
Rather than just simply telling a story, the movie has a noble intent: to focus on the crucial issue of the relationship between siblings. However admirable this is, though, the script can't escape a morale which is, in the end, very Disney-like in its utter predictability, with the two youngsters discovering that family is really the most important thing - an upbeat and completely unoriginal message that the movie had set out to deliver from the very beginning.
The comical sequences are not as funny as you'd expect, and, just like the issues presented, they're tailored to the movie's target audience of pre-teens.
Zachary Gordon and Devon Bostick have a lot of fun playing their alter-egos (Greg and Rodrick respectively), however the script's efforts to make them as real yet as sanitised as possible cause them to look more like caricatures than relatable characters.
Even Greg's parents, played by Rachel Harris and Steve Zahn, are very Disney-esque in their being out of touch and naively unaware of their sons' (however sanitised) turmoil - in the context of a cutesy story which favours a kid-safe and purified narrative at the expense of credibility.
Though watching Diary of A Wimpy Kid is an oddly endearing experience - because it indulges the viewers' inner child by letting them live the adventure through the eyes of a twelve year old - it is wise to remember that this is, by all means and purposes, a film about kids and for kids, and one to watch only if you're nine (or with your nine year old). If this is not your case, you may want to ignore the safe world of the Wimpy Kid and watch something more risky, and more entertaining.