Even if the Diary of a Wimpy Kid films being of a decidedly low quality in terms of writing and its leading child actors isn’t enough to see the franchise torpedoed by Fox, there’s another element that might force its hand: the kids in question don’t really fit their roles all that well anymore. Kids, and humans in general, have a nasty habit of aging, but kids are particularly difficult in that way as their physical changes tend to be a bit more profound. In the case the series’ lead Zachary Gordon, he’s at the point where he was arguably too old to play the role this time around in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, but there were so many other problems that an issue like that takes a backseat.
Summertime might mean school is out, but for Greg Heffley (Gordon) it won’t be all fun and games. Especially not video games as his mom and dad have cut both he and his brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) off from all forms of electronic entertainment. After seeing what his dad (Steve Zahn) has in mind for Greg to do as an alternative, he opts to lie about finding a job at the nearby country club while visiting with his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron). As an added bonus, Greg’s school crush Holly (Peyton List) is spending her summer there as well, and now he might have a chance to woo her. The country club doesn’t take up all his time though, and so when he’s not lounging by the pool or sneaking his brother in to keep his lie about a job a secret, he finds himself the hapless victim of his father’s attempt to expand Greg’s horizons in nature.
There’s not an original thought in this film’s head as it takes just about every tired gag and recycles it to poor effect. Gordon has never been an especially strong child actor, but he’s now at a point where he’s halfway decent but far too old looking for the part. It doesn’t help that his best friend as played by Rowley still has most of his puppy fat and does look a few years younger (though he’s still an absolutely horrid child actor). It’s the unfortunate trade off in a film with so many silly problems (like the kids apparently not knowing how to use the internet or phone book to find someone’s phone number), and it becomes unbearable for anyone over the target demographic of 8-year-old boys, and even for them it might be too aimless and simple.
Fox has a solid opportunity here to switch out some of the child actors for kids half their age while keeping the adults around to give the film some degree of consistency. Done right it would let the franchise roll onward with its young audience possibly not even noticing the substitution. Of course that says nothing for the fact that the series is pretty horrible as children’s comedy goes.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
Considering the target demographic, it’s understandable there’s not much here beyond the digital copy and the film on Blu-ray and DVD. What you do get though are some deleted scenes, an animated comic, and a gag reel.
"Diary of Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" is on sale December 18, 2012 and is rated PG. Children & Family, Comedy. Directed by David Bowers. Written by Maya Forbes & Wallace Wolodarsky. Starring Devon Bostick, Peyton List, Robert Capron, Steve Zahn, Zachary Gordon.