Because I love my son and I needed to bank some brownie points with my wife (or just try and claw my way back to the middle for whatever it is I’ve screwed up this week), I took one for the team and went to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid this weekend.
Let’s get this out of the way first. Parents? This movie is not for you. You know how Pixar (and some Dreamworks) pics manage to cram in all kinds of winks and nods to the adults in the audience? That’s not happening here. Much in the way the books are really not written for anyone over 15, the movie is most certainly Not for Us.
I’ve seen a lot of discussion of how the main character, Greg Heffley, isn’t likeable. To which I respond…have you ever been to a middle school? The kids there are barely stable sacks of hormones and questionable morality, driven by an ironically sociopathic desire to be accepted by the pack. Making middle school kids bearable for adults to watch is a stretch, making them likeable takes an act of God (and a willingness to make a complete break with reality). In fact the only character that parents will really like is the pink-haired “rebel” that Kinney cooked up for the movie to provide a moral compass. She’s intelligent, witty, and wryly urbane in her examination of her own plight and Greg’s navigation of Middle School waters. Needless to say, she’s hardly believable as a real person.
That out of the way, your kids will love it. Especially enamoured will be elementary schoolers for whom middle school seems a shining bastion of freedom and discovery (the poor delusional bastards). The humor is most definately crude. People are peed on, questionable foods are consumed, boogers come into play often. My seven-year-old loved it. I did not (but it’s Not for Me).
Having never read the books, I don’t know how accurate the movie stayed, but my expert on the subject said they stayed fairly true to the source (with maybe one major plot element involving icky girlfriends being dropped in favor of the Pink-haired Mentor). Though, and I can’t stress this enough, there was dissapointment over the fact that some characters did not look like their hand-drawn caricature from the book. How any character adapted from a cartoony line drawing could be considered accurate was not a concern. So purists be warned.
There was one utterance of “crap” (which was promptly met with a chorus of “Ooooooooooh!”s in our theater), but there was little to no truly objectionable content otherwise (though portly red-headed sixth graders and their mothers smacking their asses to The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” was certainly…harrowing).
So take your Wimpy Kid superfan to the movie knowing that they will be thoroughly entertained. You might even be too…make sure you spike your Coke before-hand, just in case.