Boys of summer – Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days review

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days – Starring Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn, and Rachael Harris. Directed by David Bowers. Rated PG. By Jess Lomas.

In David BowersDiary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, the third instalment of the much-loved franchise, we follow Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) on his quest for the ultimate summer vacation. Fans of the bestselling book series, written by Jeff Kinney, and previous two features, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, will delight in this return to family-friendly fun that carefully balances slapstick humour with heartfelt messages.

Greg has two goals for his summer vacation: play video games all day and hang out with the beautiful Holly Hills (Peyton List). His father Frank (Steve Zahn) and mother Susan (Rachael Harris) have other plans for him, so he soon devises a fake job at the local country club where Holly and his friend Rowley (Robert Capron) are members. Not content to while away his days at the local pool is Greg’s older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick), who convinces Greg to sneak him into the club. When Greg’s big secret is revealed, he has one chance left to win his father’s trust back as they embark on a camping trip together and face off against a rival Boy Scout troop.

Dog Days is really about the struggles of the Heffley father-son relationship, cemented by Zahn’s hugely entertaining performance. The moments between Greg and his father are delightful, in particular a scene where they battle the family’s new dog for the pot roast dinner. It’s scenes such as this, where physical comedy is so heavily relied on, that the film really shines as an appropriate-for-all-ages story.  As each generation endeavours to relate to the other they learn they have more in common than they once thought.

While Gordon is barely passable as a lead actor it is largely the surrounding cast which make this a success, especially Capron as the stereotypical chunky Rowley, and Bostick as the wannabe rocker brother. List is given the hardest task of all: playing a completely vapid character devoid of any personality or likeable traits. Given the ages of the young cast, the performances are understandably amateur. Screenwriters Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky, who both co-wrote on Monsters vs. Aliens and have television credits between them including The Simpsons and The Larry Sanders Show, have taken Kinney’s relatable and amusing novels and crafted an enjoyable, although predictable, family flick reminiscent of Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer.

3/5

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days hits Australian cinemas September 20, 2012.

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