May 26 2011 Fulham Chronicle
This sequel is actually better than its lacklustre predecessor, but it's still a fairly forgettable kids' film, writes DAMON SMITH
BLOOD may be thicker than water, but it can be spilt just as easily and that's certainly true in Diary Of A Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules. Based on Jeff Kinney's best-selling book, David Bowers's sequel continues the trials of wisecracking tyke Greg Heffley, who first exploded to life in a series of online cartoons.
Exploiting his readers' nostalgia for school days and the innocence of childhood, Kinney sold more than one million copies of his first novel and has thus far sold 43 million copies of his five-book series, which unfolds through the eyes of a pre-teen narrator with delusions of greatness.
Released in summer 2010, the film version of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid lost some of the wit and edginess of the books yet still struck a chord with audiences despite an unsympathetic and selfish lead character.
Thankfully, Bowers's film presents us with a far more endearing hero to root for.
Sibling rivalry underpins the first hour before a contrived sequence that forces the brothers to fib for each other and ultimately lays the foundations for a lasting friendship. Honesty is never the best policy.
Seventh grader Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) thinks all of his problems are solved now he has moved up a year at Westmore Middle School.
Alas, insults in the corridor are nothing compared to the bullying he suffers at home from older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick).
"Having a brother is one of the most important relationships you will ever have in your life," declares the boys' mother Susan (Rachael Harris), who writes a parenting column for the local newspaper.
To the despair of her husband Frank (Steve Zahn), Susan concocts a hare-brained scheme to force Greg and Rodrick to spend some quality time together.
Meanwhile at school, Greg tries to catch the eye of pretty classmate Holly Hills (Peyton List) while embarking on misadventures with long-suffering pal Rowley (Robert Capron) and classmates Fregley (Grayson Russell) and Chirag Gupta (Karan Brar).
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules is more entertaining than its lacklustre predecessor but has the feel of a straight-to-DVD film that has cheekily snuck into the multiplexes.
Gordon and Bostick spend the majority of the film at loggerheads before the inevitable strengthening of fraternal bonds while Capron, Russell and Brar are sidelined to the point they are almost redundant.
Greg's ability to get himself into scrapes sometimes strains credibility, like a humiliating, madcap dash around a retirement home in a pair of pants. However, rising star Gordon weathers the water bombs of outrageous misfortune with good humour.
If the third book in Kinney's series, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, ever makes it before the cameras, it will certainly live up to its title.