Movie Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days

Clear-cut regular choices make life easier. The three options I choose from after a long and hard toil in the office include: (a) good film (b) good book and (c) good food. I take all three if greediness strikes but if limited cash rear its undesirable head then a single pick will do. One of the pleasures of life I find interesting is reading a popular series after the mass enthusiasm has receded. Then I go full-on fanatic about the book while the rest of the human race latched on to another trend. I am a late fan of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. It started one clear summer night during the crucial stages of a presidential campaign. It is not supposed to be a difficult office afternoon but the e-mail accounts conked out until it left me with no choice but to encode the numerous contacts once more. Simple but monotonous chores have means of draining the lifeblood out of a person and so I planned the night ahead to ease out the pain. Movies are out of the question because of the hideous line-up in the theaters, making books and food the next best choices. I needed some light reading fare and ended up with the first couple of Wimpy Kid books. Reading inside a standard sizzling steakhouse is perhaps not the best idea because of all the smoke and terrible pop music but the humor of Greg Hefley and the rest of the gang just made things better.

Aside from clear and simple cartoon sketches, Jeff Kinney’ Wimpy Kid series is genuinely funny. Greg has mastered entering into awkward situations, with sufficient support from his parents and siblings as well as his best friend and classmates, which makes it all the more embarrassing. In the first decade of 2000s, the concept of tween burst out of the social and economic seams, creating another age bracket for capitalists and pop culture trendsetters to exploit. However, the idea of a child in-between or in transit from childhood to teenhood got muddled up. Grade-schoolers looked more and more like teenagers (or Lizzie Maguire) until there is no distinction at all. I have been fascinated with the tween concept and so I did soak their culture one summer. Of all the programs directed to the market, the best has to be Even Stevens starring former kid actor Shia LeBeouf. It’s like a frothier Malcolm in the Middle. Both programs featured a host of discomfiting circumstances the lead characters find themselves into and the unique resolutions to their problems. Embarrassment is a recurring theme because that is the usual sentiment for people in in-between realities. Tweeners are in the process of determining whether to act like a child or a teen. Same goes for the parents and the people around them. It is for this reason Greg is a kindred brother of Malcolm.

I guess the biggest problem of the film or the rest of the series for that matter is the transition from page to screen. This is different from other book-to-film adaptation because it is a comic series of the weekend paper kind. Not the usual – as posers like to call them – graphic novels. There is a distinct simple-lined and simple-shaped sketching of the cartoon characters and their personalities are all the more cartoonish. It is has a remarkable cartoon comic strip attribute thus transforming it into live-action motion picture is a bad idea. The cast is not the problem. I think the children and the supporting adult actors are competent and talented but bringing comic book characters to life has its understandable limitations. The third movie instalment is disjointed and feels like it is just going through the motions of completing a film series contract. There are amusing moments but lacked rolling delight. The book generates laughs, giggles, snorts, chuckles and chronic smiles all throughout the reading experience but the same cannot be said for the film. I was looking for amazement – the usual feeling a person senses in a classic or classic-in-the-making children film fare. No luck here. It is just a middling movie.

There is a bit of confusion in the translation. The film is a bigger medium and I felt the silliness and the tenderness of the books became less magnified in the adaptation. Some things are not meant for the big screen. Greg is better read than seen – better and wimpier.

RATING: C+

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