About a year after the first animated “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” movie came out, the second installment in the series has been released: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.” Based on the work of author Jeff Kinney, this movie brings to life the second book in his well-known book series. However, even with the popularity garnered by the book, will the movie be able to live up to its fame?
This second installment of the series focuses on the relationship between Greg Heffley, who had just entered middle school in the previous installment, and his brother, Rodrick. As a common theme of the series, Rodrick and Greg always seem to be tormenting each other, though Rodrick does most of the afflicting. In this installment, their rivalry reaches an all-time high. While the boys’ parents are away, Rodrick locks Greg and his best friend Rowley in the Heffley’s basement after he manipulates them into helping him set up and throw a not-so-secretive house party. Greg, fortunately, finds a way to benefit from this by holding it over Rodrick’s head and blackmailing him into giving him life advice (known as “Rodrick rules”) until he accidentally slips (literally) and gives away photo evidence to his mother. As expected, their parents ground them, not allowing Rodrick to participate in a talent show with his band and forcing Greg to participate with Rowley, leading to conflict and putting an end to Greg receiving top-quality life advice.
As with most wholesome movies, this one ends with the brothers reconciling (though the tormenting does not completely stop as depicted by the later installments). Greg finally builds the relationship he wants with his brother while gaining valuable information in the form of Rodrick rules. This sweet ending makes the movie perfect for a family movie night as it depicts the dynamics of an average family and all their ups and downs.
However, this is not to say that it can’t be a fun watch for kids slightly older, as it brings into play many relatable aspects, such as school popularity, rushed homework assignments and getting yelled at for not unloading the dishwasher. With its relatable details, comedic tormenting and nostalgia from when these books were seen at every school book fair, this movie makes its mark as a fun time.
Speaking of the books, this movie does diverge from them just a little bit. For example, the eternal tormenting carried out by Rodrick is cut down in the movie, placing less emphasis on the rocky relationship between the two brothers. This means that some scenes that added to the comedy of the book were taken out for the movie, most likely to ensure the pacing of it was not disturbed. Additionally, Greg’s relationship with his younger brother, Manny, is also not seen much in the movie. His best friend Rowley also seems to be present for only a couple of scenes, though this is expected due to its focus on family.
In terms of graphics, the animators for this movie definitely did a great job of bringing the characteristic stick figure drawings of the original series to life. Though animated, the simplicity of the graphics prevents the movie from losing its touch of the original work. There were some times when the movements of characters did seem a bit out of the ordinary, but this can be easily overlooked, especially by younger children.
Overall, the newly animated “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules” provides a fun source of entertainment for younger children and their families. Not only does it earn a couple of laughs, but it also teaches an important lesson about family. For slightly older children, this may also be suitable for some leisurely viewing, however, that seems to be the maximum age this movie would appeal to. For those older, the cut-down on the comedic scenes that made the books lovable seems to make this movie a no-go. Though, if you are craving a whirl of nostalgia, go ahead and press play!