Greg Heffley finally gets his comeuppance and even learns a lesson or two in the latest entry in the Diary of Wimpy Kid film series, Rodrick Rules. This time out we get a look at the relationship between Greg (Zachary Gordon) and his brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick), and their sibling rivalry is quite an amusing thing to watch.
From its opening sequence at the skating rink to the final moments, we witness a progression in the relationship and personalities of both Greg and Rodrick, which was definitely missing in the first film. Most people didn’t really like Greg in the first movie, citing him as an opportunistic jerk, a misanthrope with his own egotistical agenda.
In Rodrick Rules Greg had more dimension as a character, and his seemingly self-serving behavior, while still present, doesn’t dominate. I fact, there are several moments where you do feel sorry for the kid, which is hard to say when it comes to the first outing.
Another aspect of the film that was refreshing was the presence of emotional depth. Yes, I know, it’s hard to believe that a kid’s movie like this would have this element, but it does show itself throughout the film especially as the relationship between Greg and Rodrick grows. By the end I did feel like both brothers had learned and gone on a journey that helped them ultimately mature as siblings and as people.
Zachary Gordon and Devon Bostick have excellent chemistry together and you do believe that they are brothers. Both actors are totally committed to their roles of Greg and Rodrick, and they have their own unique style of comic timing that makes their scenes together all the more enjoyable. While this was hinted at in the first film, it is mush more evident and expanded upon here in the sequel.
I really liked Rodrick Rules. I thought it was very funny, fast-paced, well-acted, and incorporated multiple elements from the Rodrick Rules book nicely. There are many critics who disliked the film citing its episodic nature and its sitcom-like sensibility. But are these really weaknesses, or merely indicative of the narrative structure a film initially based on a journal would take?
To their credit, what the screenwriters do well is taking those sporadic comedic journal elements and threading them throughout the entire film. It’s much like what was done with The Brady Bunch Movie and its sequel, taking several elements from dozens of individual episodes of the Brady Bunch and threading them into a cohesive story.
Since I am familiar with the books I just accepted the structure of the film, which I understand may come across as sporadic and plotless to those who have not read the series. Overall, I did feel that the writers chose the best elements from Rodrick Rules to put into the film, and the result is a variety of very funny and zany moments.
The only aspect I take issue with is the addition of a character named Bill. Bill is hired on to be a part of Rodrick’s band, Löded Diper, so they can win the local talent contest. What bothered me about Bill was that he didn’t fit within the world of the movie. Here is this seemingly older guy suddenly playing in a high school rock band, and Greg and Rodrick’s parents never seem to object to his presence. I was bothered by his presence, so the overprotective nature of the Heffleys should have kicked in as well.
Like its predecessor, Rodrick Rules is harmless, family-friendly fun. I do like the fact that they have taken Greg in a new direction, making him more empathetic and likeable than he was in the first film. This helps you feel sorry for him when Rodrick does torment and annoy him, especially when it comes to Greg’s potential love interest, Holly Hills (this is merely hinted at, nothing between them). But Rodrick is just doing what older siblings do, and at the same time it allows us to see a different side of Greg’s personality.
For those of you who have read reviews that make it sound like Rodrick is some demented psychopath when it comes to torturing Greg, let me put your mind at ease. There is nothing in this movie that Rodrick does to Greg that ever puts Greg in harm’s way. His taunts and torments are annoying, frustrating, and inconvenient to Greg, but nothing here could be said to be dangerous. It is a PG-rated movie after all.
Greg and Rodrick are a nice middle ground in terms of teen behavior. They aren’t sex-crazed, drug-loving, boozers like the teens on MTV’s Skins (one extreme), and at the same time they aren’t overly sanitized kids like Wally and the Beaver from Leave it to Beaver (the other extreme). Teen behavior is at times rude, obnoxious, self-serving, and immature. But guess what? They’re teenagers! And I think Rodrick Rules captures that aspect of teen personality quite well.
Maybe we as adults are in denial that teenagers are like this, but the truth is that they are. I think the film does make a case for the fact that even with all their irritating personality traits, teenagers do need to know that someone cares about them no matter what. They will be the next generation of adults after all.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is a highly enjoyable and very funny outing that I enjoyed even more than the first film. It’s a movie that I definitely want to see again, and a movie I definitely intend to buy when it comes out on Blu-ray. I highly recommend this movie for families and fans of the first movie.
What did you think of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules? Leave a comment and let us know!