Link to previous Wimpy Kid adventure: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Review
A year has passed since the release of the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie and Fox realised these kids aren’t going to remain kids for very long so they immediately requested film adaptations of the second and fourth books, with the third book being incorporated into those two.
As I not so subtly alluded to in the last review, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is my favourite of the Wimpy Kid series. It’s the Empire Strikes Back or Godfather Part II of the trilogy if you prefer. Even after originally seeing all three movies I saw it as the best and I’m not alone as other online reviewers and fans, presumably in my age bracket, also really like this movie.
Rodrick Rules is the best mainly because it flawlessly pulls off the simple task of what all sequels should do by taking what did and didn’t work in the first movie and adding a little extra flavour to make it stand out from it’s predecessor. It’s an impressive feat, especially coming after the huge praise I gave the first film. I should note, at the end of the day, it’s still your above average family movie, but one I really like for reasons I’ll explain in paragraphs below.
The summer is over and Greg is now entering the seventh grade. He’s no longer obsessed with becoming the most popular kid in school and his friendship with Rowley is better than before. Now Greg has his sights on a new girl in his class, Holly Hills. She has a nice face and an endearing personality, but despite being Greg’s total opposite plus also being out of his league, he unsuccessfully tries to hit it off with her anyway. That’s basically all of the school stuff. There is other stuff going on but Holly is the centre, especially since Rowley is busy practicing for a magic act that Greg has no interest in participating in.
The main plot focuses on the Heffley family, which is awesome as the family dynamic is the best part of both the books and the movies. This is also where the title character and major supporting player of the film comes heavily into play and boy he excels once again. Their plot revolves around Mumma Heffley trying to get her two boys to get along by forcing them to spend time together with this thing called Mum Bucks, which they can earn and exchange for real cash. She also has this newspaper column talking about raising well behaved brothers, so she also has that pressure of living up to that. As we saw in the last movie getting these two to bond is a fool’s errand. Greg basically sees Rodrick as this grand puppeteer dominating his entire life, which Rodrick knows and abuses to torture Greg and make his own home life easier.
As I said earlier, but now with more detail, this a great sequel. If you had a problem with the first movie because some of the gags felt a bit disjointed from the rest of the story, Rodrick Rules fixes that as all the gags and jokes service the over-arching narrative, maybe except that sleepover with Rowley. Also some of the side characters like Chirag, Patty and even the sports coach guy are given much more outlandish scenarios that you wouldn’t expect to see in the first movie.
Another reason is simply because the actors are given way more material to work with, especially the parents. Steve Zahn who plays the dad is the funniest character in this movie as he delivers the film’s best lines. Rachael Harris who’s the mum is the glue that holds the two brothers together and what they do with her is really great. Also once again Zachary Gordon and Devon Bostick are great, more so when they share scenes together as their chemistry feels so natural, as if they’re really brothers.
By the time this movie came out I had already read the Rodrick Rules book and I remember being impressed by how different it was as I thought it would be a direct copy of the books. It’s sounds so unlikely from what I described earlier that Greg and Rodrick do actually start to get along, all based on the successful clean-up of their secret party while also lying to their parents.
Another plus to Rodrick Rules is Greg and Rodrick’s forced break-up is a million times better than Greg and Rowley’s. It make sense for the characters and you feel the devastation of this break-up. I also really like how the quite distant Holly Hills subplot ties in with Greg and Rodrick’s story, as it turns out she isn’t some untouchable goddess and actually shares some similarities with Greg. The talent show is easily the best ending sequence of all three movies, that incorporates some good laughs, surprises and some good old heartfelt emotion.
I do have some criticisms, but it’s awfully minor and it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the film. Rodrick Rules is great, but the final movie in the trilogy, Dog Days, is a whole other matter.
Link to Next Part: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days Review