After the surprise box-office success of last year’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the popular illustrated children’s books by Jeff Kinney (40 million copies and counting) have quickly spawned another big-screen outing.
In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Greg Heffley, the titular pre-pubescent wuss, is now in the seventh grade, but he’s as insecure as ever, particularly now that he has pretty new girl Holly to impress. At school, tubby best friend Rowley remains loyal and trusting, but at home, big brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick), a stroppy, slouching, eye-liner-wearing teen who fancies himself as a rock drummer, is still making Greg’s life hell.
In a bid to foster fraternal peace, the boys’ mother (Sarah Palin/Tina Frey lookalike Rachael Harris) hits on paying them “Mom Bucks” in return for good deeds, but the scheme creates even more misery for Greg. Even worse, Rowley wants him to be his onstage assistant for the un-cool magic act he plans for the school talent show. How will this go down with their classmates and with the out-of-reach Holly?
Zachary Gordon’s put-upon Greg remains a reliable guide to the ordeals of pre-teen life, but his screen adventures are too sketchy (hampered by their diary-format origins) and the acting too patchy (hands-up Steve Zahn’s cartoony dad) for the film to be any more than a passable half-term diversion.
On general release from 20th May.