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DIARY OF A WIMPY KID 2: RODRICK RULES

SYNOPSIS:
Now in Year 7, wimpy Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is smitten by the pretty new girl Holly (Peyton List) but big bro Rodrick (Devon Bostick), who aspires to be a rock star is on hand to kill his confidence. When the tension between the siblings escalates, Greg's mother Susan (Rachael Harris) suggests they spend more time together, but predictably there are ups and downs as they bond over forbidden parties and silly pranks. Meanwhile Greg's best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) is disappointed when Greg refuses to be part of his magic act for the local talent quest, thinking Holly will think him a nerd.

Review by Louise Keller:
Less successful than the semi successful first film adaptation of cartoon strip illustrator Jeff Kinney's highly successful Diary of a Wimpy Kid blog and books, which captured the art of survival for its dorky tween protagonist at primary school, this second installment about the chaos of life at home lacks nuance and offers little charm. The formula is pretty much the same, utilising animated cartoon sequences as a backdrop to the tortured reality of a youngster battling parental authority and the torments of his older would-be rock-star brother. Lacking in zip, the film simply doesn't fire.

Zachary Gordon (as Greg Heffley) is not charismatic enough, nor is he vulnerable enough or even wimpy enough for us to warm to him. Additionally, the storyline is a trifle dull, compounded by director David Bowers' inability to capture the quirkiness of his predecessor Thor Freudenthal. In many ways the film feels old fashioned as it plods through predictable territory with little interest or energy. The earnest tone rubs against the grain of the subject matter and the treatment of the parents (Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn) as caricatures is a dismal failure. Is this the only role that talented Zahn can get these days?

The best thing in the film is Greg's good-natured, chubby best friend with pudding cut hair Rowley (Robert Capron is excellent) who genuinely allows us to get a sense of the angst of being in Year 7, while Devon Bostick as Rodrick does a good fist of the teenager from hell (and would-be rock-star drummer), intent on intimidating his younger brother. The forbidden party when parents are away offers some colour and story strands include Greg's classroom infatuation with pretty blonde Holly (Peyton List), a nonsensical school prank in which an Indian student is treated as invisible and the local talent competition, all of which lacks the slapstick fun and light-hearted touch we crave.

The sequence that works best is the one where the stakes are real - when Rodrick steals Greg's personal diary at their grandfather's retirement home, resulting in a mortified youngster wearing y-fronts making a dash for it under video surveillance. Too little too late.
Published first in the Sun-Herald

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID 2: RODRICK RULES (PG)
(US, 2011)

VOICES: Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Rachael Harris, Robert Capron, Steve Zahn, Connor Fielding

PRODUCER: Nina Jacobson, Bradford Simpson

DIRECTOR: David Bowers

SCRIPT: Gabe Sachs, Jeff Judah (book by Jeff Kinney)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jack N. Green

EDITOR: Troy Takaki

MUSIC: Ed Shearmur

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Brent Thomas

RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 14, 2011







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