Unfortunately Diary of a Wimpy Kid does not make nearly as strong of an impact as the books do. The film never seems to capture the same charm, although it does have some reminiscent moments.
Greg Heffley, played by Zachary Gordon, is the middle child starting is first year at middle school, and his “diary” catalogs his plan for survival and the year. He is accompanied by the usual suspects: his older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), whose favorite pass time is picking on Greg; the seriously weird kid, Fregley (Grason Russell), who is so far down the social ladder it almost seems like they had to create an underground; the overachieving spoiled, Patty (Laine MacNeil), who is hell-bent on revenge from kindergarten; and the endearing best friend, Rowley (Robert Caron), whose sincerity completely off-sets Greg’s “ambitions.” Along with that you have the cheese touch, the myth of the school, the one no one knows where it began but everyone continues to live by.
Jeff Kinney’s cartoon filled novel is filled with nostalgia without making anything epic or any of his characters highly noble. The driving force behind the story is with the kids, and as we all know kids can be cruel. Middle School is that ground where we begin to define and rank ourselves and Greg plans on being ahead of the curve, however there is no predicting what his schemes lead to.
Thor Freudenthal cleverly adapted the cartoons into the film’s treatment and never lost Greg’s original voice. Unfortunately it seems like it took Zachary Gordon a little while to warm up to the character of Greg and that off set the start of the film. As it rolls forward though the relationship between Greg and Rowley, becomes the focal point of the film and the contrasts give the film its own charming moments.
Although the film has its own magnetism, it failed to capture the appeal of the illustrated novel. The fun that children of all ages (and adults alike) can have with the “diary” in their own hands is almost lost in film form. The visual element of the film can be appreciated best in certain scenes that are larger than the book, for example Halloween, and the school play. However overall the charm lies in the book and the film is best appreciated by a family movie night.