DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS – The Review
This third film adapted from Jeff Kinney’s illustrated sagas charting the adolescent woes of oh-so-wimpy middle schooler Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is easily the weakest of this series so far. The first two films were episodic and lightweight, but within their loose narrative structure was an exploration of the frustrating, frequently stressful middle school experience that rang mostly true. The earlier films had bouncy energy and some surreal touches but DIARY OF A WIMPY KID DOG DAYS is cheap and poorly written. In this installment, school is out for the summer and Greg has a crush on his cute classmate Holly (Peyton List) so he pretends to hold a job at her country club in order to win her over (and to avoid having to spend time with his dad). The usual dreary slapstick embarrassments ensue.
Since little takes place in school in this installment, Greg’s clueless dad, played by Steve Zahn, has an extended bonding scene at a Boy Scout jamboree, but nobody goes to the WIMPY KID movies to see father and son relationship issues. They go because of Greg’s goofy friends but nerdy Fregley (Grayson Russell) and the Indian kid Chiraq (Karan Brar), scene stealers in the previous films, are barely in part 3. Rowley (Capron) is back though and there’s a long sequence where Greg takes a vacation with him and his strict parents, but that tangent is never funny and it doesn’t add up to much. While the earlier films were at times mean-spirited and disgusting, at least they had a fair share of decent humor. This third installment feels like the cast and crew are playing it safe, going through the motions and the movie fails to deliver the laughs. Rachael Harris brings some warmth to the proceedings as Greg’s mom but she’s underused. David Bowers returns to direct from a script by Maya Forbes and Gabe Sachs. Bowers is an animation vet, yet there is very little of the cartoon asides that perked up the first two films. The best parts of DIARY OF A WIMPY KID DOG DAYS are the aggravation Greg has to put up with from his older brother Rodrick, but it’s a tough day in middle school – and for the movie’s audience – when the only funny moment is when Rodrick pretends to drown to attract Holly’s lifeguard sister, only to receive CPR from a fat hairy guy. There are more books in this series and probably more films to come, so here’s hoping they can get these WIMPY KID movies back on track.
1 1/2 of 5 Stars