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'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' review: Animated Disney reboot has its charms

Courtesy of Disney+


Middle school is hell. Just ask the pipsqueak Greg Heffley, the protagonist in Jeff Kinney’s insanely popular book series and now rebooted Disney franchise “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” The fifth cinematic adaptation following a string of successful live-action adventures, Disney’s latest attempt plunges the misadventures of young Greg Heffley into the animation realm. It’s not the most pristine or crisp looking endeavor, but “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” has its charms, staying faithful to the source material even if the minuscule (and pre-school friendly) 56-minute runtime holds it back from branching out beyond a series of vignettes that feel scatterbrained.

In its defense, Jeff Kinney’s books were more like graphic novels that could be flipped through quickly, so it makes sense “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” keeps things light and short. Under the direction of Swinton Scott, the middle school hijinks, pre-pubescent humor and all the consequences of the “cheese touch” remain intact even if the pudgy 3D animation could have used another pass through the Disney ecosystem.

At least the heart of “Wimpy Kid,” about the awkward transition from elementary-to-middle school, following the bald headed and plucky Greg Heffley (Brady Noon) and with his quirky best friend Rowley (Ethan William Childress) maintains its cinematic footing (for the most part). The boys are forced to navigate the wild terrain of middle school and crack down the lingo and avoid becoming labeled as nerds. They desire acceptance and the social hierarchy creates a weird divide within the seemingly unbreakable friendship of Greg and Rowley. Rowley is still the same goofball from fifth grade who throws out phrase’s “play” instead of “hanging out.” And Greg will do just about anything to become popular, including piggybacking off an injury Rowley sustained because of his negligence.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” isn’t keen on holding Greg accountable for his actions, but when you’re under time constraints, certain elements are bound to get swept under the rug. Nevertheless, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” avoids becoming a total bore and should excite young fans currently in the prime “wimpy kid” demographic. And if they’re unenthused, well, it’s only 56 minutes.

Grade: C+

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID is now streaming on Disney+


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