Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Movie Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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In the seven or so months I've been Alone at the Movies, I've given positive reviews to every film I've seen. That's a problem for a film reviewer. I mean, I'm a critic, shouldn't I criticize something. This congers uncomfortable questions like: Are you too nice? Are you useful to the 3 people listening to this who are not your wife? What is your purpose? And so, teetering on this existential precipice, I went to see “Diary of Wimpy Kid”.

It would be funnier at this point to say I liked the movie. Sadly, I did not. And I know, sad is a weird emotion to have toward a mediocre movie. It’s just, with “Diary”, there were glimpses of what could have been. There were glimpses of true wit, glimpses of good ideas, glimpses of insight into the pain of navigating Junior High. But glimpsing what could have been, witnessing a work not reach it’s full potential, is like window shopping men’s shoes in Italy, beautiful, but way too expensive for your state salary.

Okay, “Diary” is nothing like window shopping in Italy for shoes. It’s more like golf in Juneau, post holing up Peterson Cabin Trail with a 60 pound pack, or not having boat in early August. You know, frustrating.

So basically, a brainy and bratty kid, with an eclectic family starts junior high with a goal of being liked, cool, the man. He is saddled by a geeky and un-self-conscious best friend, but more importantly, he is saddled with a debilitating self-centered view of the world. There are wild-and-crazy characters, wise-beyond-their-years characters, and moldy cheese. This is a “paint by numbers” movie, an expensive after school special, so lessons are learned, family is supportive, and friendships are strengthened.

Honestly, I don’t like giving bad reviews. I don’t have the stomach for this. I feel like a school yard bully slamming this film to the pavement. I could talk about how being a kid’s movie is not an excuse for lack of nuance. I could talk about the misuse of stock characters; or how use of stock characters is just lazy. Or I could talk about the bad acting. But you know, the actors are all 12, so yes, the acting’s a bit stilted…

Look, if you go out this weekend, and you’re without kids, and the Scorsese film is still playing, go see that. I hear it’s awesome. But maybe, just maybe, if you have a sixth grader and there is absolutely nothing else to do, check out a “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”. There may be worse wastes of time, but I can’t think of any.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” plays this weekend at Gross Alaska theaters. This is Clint Farr, Alone at the Movies.

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