A boy's battles with big brother

The title character Greg (Zachary Gordon) succeeds in getting one of his nemeses, Patty (Laine MacNeil), to take a whiff of his roller skates.
The title character Greg (Zachary Gordon) succeeds in getting one of his nemeses, Patty (Laine MacNeil), to take a whiff of his roller skates.
Posted: March 25, 2011

In more ways than one, Greg Heffley is caught in the middle.

At home, big brother Rodrick bullies him and little brother Manny breaks stuff and blames it on him. At school, Greg is not remarkable enough for the cool seventh graders and not eccentric enough for the geeks. In terms of height and popularity, he ranks about 50 in a class of 55.

In short (pun intended), Greg is radiantly average.

He is the relatable title character of Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules, the sunny if sitcommy sequel to the first in the franchise based on Jeff Kinney's beloved books.

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 crickey@phillynews.com. Read her blog, "Flickgrrl," at http:/philly.com/flickgrrl/.

 

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