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Movie Review

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Christopher Gildemeister

Release Date: 3/19/2010

MPAA Rating: PG : Description: Some rude humor and language

Starring: Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron, Devon Bostwick, Chloë Grace Moretz, Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn

Based on the hit comic strip and book series by Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid tells the story of Greg Heffran, a young boy living the nightmare known as “middle school.” Surrounded by clueless parents, a practical-joking older brother, bullying classmates, and a world which simply refuses to accord him the fame, riches, and popularity which are clearly his due, Greg schemes to improve his place in the middle-school pecking order. Only his best friend Rowley makes his life bearable; but then Rowley finds other friends…just because Greg caused Rowley’s broken arm and dismissal from safety patrol. Life is so unfair -- why does everything happen to Greg?

There is little content to concern parents in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Sex is neither shown nor referred to; Greg’s older brother Rodrick is shown with a (very tame) magazine featuring bikini-clad women, and is lectured and punished by his mother for having it. Greg and his potty-training little brother are humorously shown in their underwear frequently throughout the movie. In his bid for popularity Greg joins the wrestling team, where he is soundly beaten by a scrawny fellow student and his female nemesis. The movie, especially in its first half-hour, also features some physical and scatological humor, such as Rodrick shoving Greg’s face into his armpit, and jumping out of a shower trying to scare Greg while he urinates, another boy chasing Greg with a “booger,” and suchlike. There is also much humor devoted to a moldy piece of cheese left on the playground, with anyone who touches it becoming a pariah in the school. Greg, his brother, and various classmates call one another names like “turd burglar,” and Greg and Rowley are mildly bullied and threatened throughout by older teens.

While the above may make Diary of a Wimpy Kid sound like yet another kid’s movie filled with slapstick and “gross-out” humor, in fact the film is an exceptionally faithful portrayal of the middle school years, sure to resonate with children going through it themselves. The middle-school years are a bewildering age: children are obsessed with dressing, acting, and being treated like adults, yet are still able to go out trick-or-treating, and this movie captures the age’s mix of innocence and cynicism well. The film’s characters are realistic: Greg is neither surly nor saccharine, but he is realistically self-centered and concerned with his status and popularity at school. Rowley is a sweet-natured but often clueless innocent who does not realize that middle school kids no longer “play,” they “hang out.” In addition to the sharply etched portrait of middle school, the movie also offers several positive messages: over time, Greg comes to realize the shallowness of his obsession with popularity, sees his own mistakes, and takes responsibility for them; and older student Angie encourages him to have hope: “Middle school isn’t forever. Soon you’ll be onto high school – and then the rest of your life.”

Because of its delightfully realistic, yet optimistic, portrait of the middle-school years and its positive messages, the Parents Television Council is pleased to award Diary of a Wimpy Kid with the PTC Seal of ApprovalTM. The PTC does not recommend this movie for children under age six.

The Parents Television Council does not recommend Diary of a Wimpy Kid for children under age seven.

SEX Brief glimpse of girlie magazine, very mild partial nudity
VIOLENCE Wrestling, slapstick
LANGUAGE "poop," "turd," "pee," scatological and body-function humor