Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is a better film than its predecessor. This was something I rather anticipated, however, I don’t believe its to the detriment of this installment that it is second. There is not too much shorthand used and the narrative is accessible enough that that much enjoyment will not be stripped away if you are walking into this one cold.
This film benefits from a more unified and less episodic plot than did its predecessor as well. Not that it still doesn’t reap the benefit of humorous and well thought out subplots but they weave their way into the larger narrative with more finesse than before. These tales like Chirag’s invisibility, the new girl, the teacher with a vendetta are all well-handled and add to the film but do not ever threaten to overtake the film from what the central conflict is.
The conflict being that of sibling rivalry, which is handled very well because you see a relationship in stasis go from just about as bad as it can possibly get to become rather functional. It also contains the peaks and valleys that are requisite for such a struggle and even more of a credit to the film it goes from being borderline cartoonish in its animosity to being rather real and honest in the handling of the themes of both resentment and insurmountable hatred that sometimes accompany such relationship especially when the age difference is large.
These discussion points come first to illustrate that despite its varying brands of humor, there is a point to be made in the film and its not just silly comedy. As for the styles comedy it does do a wonderful balancing act again. As this is a homey tale there is more parent-child and husband-wife comedy than before.
Again Steve Zahn brilliantly plays a dad who wants to be as hands off in parenting as he can and also is a typical guy in some regards and not just your typical distant patriarchal archetype. He is countered wonderfully by Rachael Harris. They are funny enough, however, the comedic quotient in this film is amplified greatly when you consider that the talented and previously under-ultilized Devon Bostick gets to step to the fore in this film. He is astonishingly good in this film and rarely delivers a line that doesn’t elicit some sort of response whether it be a laugh or one that connects dramatically.
Zachary Gordon’s character Greg is somewhat mellowed this time around not as hellbent on achieving popularity and other superficial means of acceptance but glimmers of that self appear even in a more rounded character that he creates just as easily, if not easier than he did before. His honesty in situations that in tandem can be seen as absurd are what carry the film and make it something you can connect to sympathetically rather than watch as a disinterested observer.
This film moves along at a very healthy clip, not only are there some fun and creative editing choices like “Disappointed” montage for Mom but things cut swiftly within scenes such that the whole things seems like its done in a blink and not in a disappointed I-Can’t-Believe-They-Call-That-A-Feature kind of way but in a fun and escapist, easily re-watchable way.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules allows the narrative, characters and young performers to grow and evolve from where we left them and you can call it an experiment if you like but if you do it is surely a success. Those who were there are better, more confident and comfortable in their roles and those who are new like Peyton List, who carries off the important role of Greg’s love interest with uncanny ease, blend in perfectly.
It’s funny, fun, must-see.
While the sequel is not as good as the first, and neither live up to the books, I still thought it was pretty entertaining. Props to Zachary Gordon for playing a likeable lead, and for staying true to the character without going too far over the top.
Like the first movie, I thought this also had great use of music. “Got Me the Beat” by Roge and “School Daze” by Jet Stream were the perfect dancey tunes to be playing at the skating rink (“Got Me the Beat” was when Greg and Rowley run into Fregley, “School Daze” was when Greg’s mom was doing the embarassing dance). It reminded me of how well John Hughes movies from the 80s used music at school dance scenes.
Also, Tokyo Police Club’s “Wait Up” was a great choice for Rodrick’s party when Greg and Rowley try to navigate through all the chaos.
Thanks for the comment it is much appreciated. Very good point about the source music it is rather well placed and selected, it is an element I will will note from time to time but rarely mention in reviews for one reason or another.
For some insights on why I enjoyed this one more please feel free to read my review of the original which I have not yet migrated here from my former site:
As for the books I have not read them so I cannot comment on them. As someone who has seen many adaptations of books I enjoy into films I have devised strategies to try and avoid comparisons, as it really is apples and oranges. If you’re interested I can link you to those as well. They will be re-posted here at some point, though.