This time around, Greg's well-meaning mother (Rachael Harris) encourages her older sons to become friends. She is the only person on the planet who fails to recognize that Rodrick (Devon Bostick) gets his power from pranking Greg.
Directed by David Bowers, DOWK 2 (funny how that acronym looks like "dork") better integrates the book's distinctive stick-figure cartoons with the live-action episodes of brotherly hate.
Buffeted between brothers, between cliques, and between parents who still treat him like a toddler, Greg (Zachary Gordon, who has the Everyboy appeal of Jerry Mathers' Beaver Cleaver) struggles to find his place.
He listens when his friends tell him that Holly Hills (Peyton List), the pretty new girl in seventh grade, is out of his league. And then Greg, like every middle schooler throughout history, wonders exactly which league he is in.
His story is told with considerable charm, if perhaps too many poop jokes for one not a 13-year-old boy. (Rodrick's headbanger band is called Löded Diper.)
Unlike the first film, which was broader and more episodic, this one has a narrative throughline. The more Mom pushes the boys together, the more they butt heads. And the funnier it gets. Here's a tween comedy you don't have to be a tween to enjoy.
Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey at 215-854-5402 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog, "Flickgrrl," at http:/philly.com/flickgrrl/.