I hate to break it to you, but Disney+ is on a roll with the bad remakes.
The 2021 release of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is unique in that it’s the first animated adaptation of the beloved Jeff Kinney series. The creators of the film decided to hold to Kinney’s original comic style so that the entire movie looks like a colored, 3-D version of the books, and with a slightly claymation-esque feel. It’s pretty cute.
Unfortunately, the quirky animation style just isn’t enough to save this one. I honestly can’t tell if the plotline was particularly bad or if I’m just getting older, but either way, I have never been more fed up with Greg Heffley (voiced by Brady Noon, “Good Boys”). While focusing on his relationship with his one and only best friend Rowley (voiced by Ethan William Childress, “Happy Place”), this movie ended up highlighting all the worst parts of Greg. He’s mean, selfish and entitled. Greg has nothing but disdain for Rowley, who has his own set of problems, namely stupidity (sorry Rowley) and an inability to stand up for himself. Yes, he’s a certified idiot, but that doesn’t give Greg permission to treat him like trash. Besides, beggars can’t be choosers: If Greg hates Rowley so much, he should just go be friends with his creepy neighbor Fregley (voiced by Christian Convery, “Beautiful Boy”). We all saw how well that worked out — Fregley literally chased Greg all around the house with his green, gooey booger. All in all, watching a resentful 11-year-old with a major superiority complex bully his equally lame best friend is painful on the eyes.
Another thing: The main premise of the movie is Greg’s transition to middle school, but his obsession with popularity and earning a “cool kid” spot at a lunch table is flat-out sad. After all, who wants to relive the depressing, silly climb up the middle school social ladder? Surely not me. Thank God this movie is only 56 minutes long so we can move on with our lives already.
Okay, okay. It’s not that “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is utterly devoid of merit. It’s cute, honestly. There are some sweet moments and some funny moments, and the animation made me smile. And while we didn’t get our usual dose of iconic Rodrick scenes, Greg’s older brother does make an appearance at the beginning of the film when he divulges the art of surviving middle school. It’s nowhere near the proper amount of Rodrick content needed to make this film funny, but it’s fun for what it is.
At the end of the day, all these strengths and weaknesses point to one underlying truth: This movie is made for kids. It’s the most ‘rated G’ version of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” possible. Where the live-action movies are witty and flavorful, this animated film is sweet but mostly bland. Greg is painfully lame, and the rest of the movie isn’t funny enough to make up for it. So unless you’re an actual 7 to 10-year-old, I’d steer clear of this one. After all, we already have four other versions to pick from as it is.
Daily Arts Writer Pauline Kim can be reached at email@example.com.