Movie Review: Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
Country: United States||Canada
Release Date: August 3, 2012
Distributor: Color Force||Fox 2000
· David Bowers
· Zachary Gordon
· Steve Zahn
· Robert Capron
· Devon Bostick
· Peyton List
· Rachael Harris
by Dennis Russo
Published: August 5, 2012
“Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” is the 3rd “DOAWK” movie, based on both the 3rd and 4th books written by Jeff Kinney, The Last Straw and Dogs Days from which this movie derives its name. For fans of the book series, and even those only familiar with the movies, “Dog Days” is sure to please and will make kids and parents alike laugh at loud more than once. It's a hot movie for the kid set
The film centers around summer vacation with Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) trying his best to do two things: (1) get the nerve to ask Holly Hills (Peyton List) on the last day of 7th grade to give him her phone number so he can maybe hang out with her over the summer, and (2) find a way to avoid his father (who he admittedly has nothing in common with except they both hate the same single panel newspaper cartoon) nagging him to go outside and play during the summer so he can stay inside and play his video games.
Needless to say nothing goes as planned for Greg, his friends and his family.
Having an 11-year-old daughter of my own, I am very familiar with the books and the movies, so I went in knowing a good deal about all the characters and their personalities. I liked the way that, at times throughout the movie, some of the scenes reverted to crude drawings identical in style to the drawings in the books. It gives that connection that ties you back to them and calls you to compare it to the books, which I find it stands up very well against. I was wondering, though, whether someone not familiar with the stories would be able to relate to and enjoy this movie the same way as those who were. Ultimately I came away believing they would, but I definitely feel that those who are familiar with the series will have an advantage, and enjoy it a little more than the rest.
While first timers will be able to grasp the characters' personalities and piece together how they relate to each other, those “in the know” will understand the relationship between Greg and his older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), so everything he does to Greg and everything that Greg fears he will do to him all make perfect sense. They will know the littlest details, such as how Rodrick’s band got the name “Loaded Diaper,” just how gross Fregley (Grayson Russell) is, and that Patty Farrel (Laine MacNeil) is not just a mean girl, but that she really hates Greg. It’s the little back story things like that which make the movie a little more funnier than it would appear not knowing things like that.
“Dog Days” has a lot that people can relate to, either first hand because they are going through it now, or because they remember going through it when they were kids way back when. Now, I’m not saying that real people have experienced the exaggerated events and circumstance that happen in this movie. I am referring to the awkwardness of the scenarios Greg finds himself in. The trying to muster the courage to ask a pretty girl for her number. The lying to try and impress and convince her and others that you can do more than you actually can. The angst of dealing with an older brother that feels you’re a nuisance more than anything else. The trying to relate to parents whom you don’t have much in common with, but who think you will like to do all the things they liked to do, not realizing that you're at the age where you're developing you own likes and wants. And, of course, dealing with being a wimpy kid.
Throughout the film I kept finding myself drawing comparisons between it and the television show Malcolm In The Middle, given the structure, the way scenes are filmed and often narrated. There are many funny scenarios that Greg and his best friend Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron) that just turn out bad, sometimes straining their friendship, but they are best buds and as such they always reaffirm that in the end.
There are a lot of different story lines going on in this movie that oddly enough all tie together to make the over arching story, some of which are:
- Greg likes Holly
- Holly doesn’t know Greg likes her
- Rodrick hates his brother Greg (in a typical big brother kind of way)
- Rodrick really digs Holly’s sister Heather (Melissa Roxburgh).
- Greg hangs out at the country club where Holly and Heather are members as a guest of Rowley's (also a member) to try and get close to her.
- Rodrick bullies Greg into sneaking him into the country club to meet Heather.
- Greg’s dad Frank Heffley (Steve Zahn) thinks Greg is lazy and unaccountable, and is considering sending him away to “Spag Union” private school to make him more responsible; but his wife wants him to spend more time with Greg, so they join a wilderness troop like Frank belonged to when he was a kid.
There’s even more than this, with sub-stories that develop off of these, and it is very funny how each relationship plays out and intertwines.
This movie is a no-brainer. You don’t have to think hard or look deep into the different scenarios for hidden meanings or anything like that. The story is very superficial, but we must remember this is made for a younger audience -- and given the huge amount of laughter I heard from the audience and the “leaning ins” that I could see with the kids pointing to the screen and whispering in the parents ears -- it was easy to see that they knew everything that was going on.
Even with this superficiality it was very enjoyable. I really liked the way that Steve Zahn got into his character, and he has very expressive facial features that make the lines he gives even more believable and funny.
Greg and all of his friends -- even those that do not have a huge part in this movie such as Fregley and Chirag (Karan Brar) -- play their roles as if they are in many ways the characters they are portraying. It’s that naturalness they bring that make it so easy to watch. I also like the fact that, even if some of the characters don’t have a huge part in the movie, they are still shown because they should be. After all, it’s their world.
Some of the young actors in this movie are also familiar to many of the audience because they have seen them in other venues. For instance Karan Brar (Chirag) and Peyton List (Holly Hills) are very familiar, as they star in the very popular Disney Channel show Jesse.
I have some favorite parts of this movie that I think are some of the funniest sight gags I’ve seen this year in any movie. I won’t tell you what they are, because I don’t want to take the edge off of them. Suffice to say very -- very funny! Even with all of the mishaps, things work out in the end for everyone. Not an easy feat really when you remember all of the different plot lines going on here.
So I will leave you with this. During one part of the movie, after a chocolate fountain winds up splattered all over Heather’s friend during her Sweet Sixteen party (riotous), Rowley is standing next to her holding a strawberry, looking at his strawberry and staring at the chocolate covering her arm. The girl looks at him with an exasperated look and says dejectedly, “Go for it,” and he swipes the strawberry over her arm and eats the strawberry with a look of enjoyment on his face. In that spirit I too say, “Go for it.” If you don’t understand something going on, lean into the kid sitting next to you and ask them. Odds are they will tell you everything you need to know and you’ll come out with a look of enjoyment on your face.