Movie review: ‘Rodrick Rules’ offers dorky laughs for 8- to 12-year-old boys
The second entry into the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” franchise, “Rodrick Rules,” is a lot like the first - it really shouldn’t be analyzed from a grown-up perspective. The film, like the series of books on which it is based, is made for 8- to 12-year-old-boys, or thereabouts.
And, so, coming from that perspective, I say they’re going to love it.
After seeing this movie, I might have been longing for the next Pixar flick, but the audience I saw “Rodrick Rules” with laughed and winced in all the right spots. Gags and simple sketches involving bird poop, fake vomit and a boy in his tighty-whiteys had them rolling in the aisles. Now, did these kids pick up on the “brotherly love” theme that was being laid down? Guess we’ll have to ask them.
In any case, the story resumes after summer vacation as series hero Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon, cute as a button) and the gang head back to school. Greg sees seventh grade as fresh start - he’s lost the “cheese touch” and is crushing on the new girl (Peyton List). Except he’s still got the same problems - an older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), who torments him, a younger brother who torments him and dorky friends who embarrass him. Small, unathletic, and guilty of trying too hard, Greg’s middle-school existence is worsened by parents who force him to spend time with his brother. Theirs is hardly a bromance. Misery and humiliation ensue. After all, no one can fix you quite like an older sibling.
Fans of the series will be happy to know that Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah again wrote the script, so the story maintains its continuity - and predictability. David Bower (“Astro Boy”), however, takes over the director’s duties from Thor Freudenthal, who helmed the first film. Plainville resident Jeff Kinney wrote the best-selling books and again served as producer.
In this installment, the relationship between Greg and his high-school-aged brother Rodrick takes center stage. Rodrick realizes his little brother can be useful, especially when they’re keeping a secret from their parents. They even become friends bonded by deception. Once the cat’s out of the bag, though, it’s cutthroat vengeance. While neither boy is a typical role model, kids enjoy watching them. They make bad decisions and can even be troublemakers, but most of their actions are played for laughs.
The butt of some of those laughs is Greg’s best bud, the good-hearted cherub, Rowley Jefferson, played by a movie-stealing Robert Capron. If there’s a true role model here, it’s him - he loves his mother (OK, maybe, too much), hates lying and is the only character whose always true to himself.
Unfortunately, Chloe Grace Moretz isn’t back as the artsy writer who befriends Greg in the first movie. Moretz is onto bigger and better things, such as “Kick-Ass.” She’s missed.
“Rodrick Rules” is the second in a five-book series. Naturally, a third “Wimpy Kid” film is planned.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: RODRICK RULES (PG for some mild rude humor and mischief.) Cast includes Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron, Rachael Harris, Devon Bostick, and Steve Zahn. 2 stars out of 4.