Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (review)

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days red light

I’m “biast” (pro): nada

I’m “biast” (con): hated the first movie, skipped the second because of that

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Toilet! Stinky diaper! Dog slobber! Toenails! Pee in the pool! Gah-rooooss! Color me odd, but I think that kids’ movies should not pander to the basest instincts of the little monsters. Isn’t it supposed to be the job of grownups (and hence by extension the movies grownups make for kids) to gently ease them away from poo-booger-potty jokes and encourage them to join the civilized world? I hated the first Wimpy Kid movie for the all-encompassing asshole-ishness of its young protagonist, and though here, in the third film of the franchise — based on the hugely popular web comic and book series [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.] — he’s matured a little, as he exits seventh grade, there’s still way too much crass and crude for this installment to do much beyond stoke juvenile disgust with human bodily functions. Yes, Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon), in the summer before eighth grade, will learn some further lessons about not being a preteen jerk, but his audience will still be encouraged to find hilarity in crotch injuries and budding homophobia. There’s an odd datedness, too, to the proceedings that make we wonder how much today’s kids will actually identify with some of this: Greg’s Dad (Steve Zahn: A Perfect Getaway) abhors videogames, much to Greg’s horror, for it ruins the kid’s plan for summer vacation, which encompasses mastering his favorite game. But Dad is exactly the right age to be a videogame nut himself — how many of today’s tweens do not share an obsession with gaming with their GenX parents? Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney is the same age as the Dad character, and it’s clear he’s writing about his own childhood in the 1970s and 80s. But there’s no gloss of nostalgia here, and little adult appreciation for the trials of kidhood. Only gazing at Steve Zahn in his adorable troop-leader “Wilderness Scout” uniform and wondering when Greg’s slightly deranged older brother was suddenly going to go all We Need to Talk About Kevin — actor Devon Bostick is almost a dead ringer for Kevin star Ezra Miller — got me through this.

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