Wednesday, April 13, 2011
"Diary of a Whimpy Kid" fun and maybe too close to my young life
The movie is about a group of kids who are the outcasts in the first year of middle school. Trouble is, Greg wants to be part of the cool kids. His quest for fame and recognition is what this movie is all about. It deals with bullying, betrayal, love, and a sugar high. It reminded me so much of middle school it hurt. Both from laughing and from sad nostalgia. Some of the scenes in this movie are so spot on it's scary. Others are very true and even made me almost tear up. Yes, I said it. I got choked up at a silly kids movie.
One of the most brilliant parts of this movie is the casting. Rarely do you see a full cast of oddball kids work so well on the screen. Not only are they odd characters, but they are almost life-like cartoons. Since this was originally a picture book, that makes a lot of sense. What is crazy about it is how much the director (Thor Freudenthal, "Hotel For Dogs") was able to get out of his young stars. Most of the acting was way over the top, but it worked for me. They got the main few to dial it back enough for the serious moments to really be effective. The stand outs were Robert Capron (Rowley) and Grayson Russell (Fregley). They embodied their characters with such joy that you couldn't help but smile at them. The rest of the cast did quite well, but these two are the standouts.
Are there issues with the story? Sure. There are a few scenes that go a little overboard. Sometimes the silliness takes completely over. However more often than not there is restraint. At it's heart, the story was very simple. How many people do you step on if you want to be "popular"? What are you willing to sacrifice to gain that? This story is far from new. However this retelling is so full of energy and joy that I couldn't help but get completely involved. What do you know? A movie clearly intended for kids went over big with me. Before all of you that know me say anything I think it had more to do with the simple way it works it's magic. This is truly a recommended viewing for all.
8 out of 10 stars