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Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days

August 5, 2012

When I was an adolescent, summer was the perfect time to work on getting some form of cancer. On days when I wouldn’t sleep past noon, I’d set my alarm to 8 am, eat a blueberry Eggo waffle, sit super close to the television, then proceed to feed my brain with images from Nick Jr., Disney Channel and MTV. Life was good those summers, but there was one summer I was sent off to stay with a family member for two and a half months of unsupervised freedom, forcing me into the sunlight to play and create adventures with my cousins and their neighbors. That summer consisted of mischief and mayhem and was the most memorable summers of my life, perhaps that’s why Greg Heffley’s summer vacation in Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days is so funny and relatable. Greg’s zany life as a middle-schooler continues to be both hysterical and awkwardly cringe-worthy resurfacing old memories from yesteryear.

It’s the summer before 8th grade and Greg (Zachary Gordon) has only two things on his mind: video games and his long time crush, Holly. His father, Frank (Steve Zahn), has other plans however, like getting Greg to spend quality time with him outdoors, something the sports hating Greg is not thrilled about. Greg instead attempts to con his dad into thinking he’s responsible after lying about a summer job that keeps him from having time for father son bonding, but his lies run the risks of getting him sent off to an all boys prep school due to the mistakes he can’t help but continuously make.

If you’ve liked any of the previous Diary of a Wimpy Kid films, then Dog Days is just as enjoyable as you’d expect. If you’ve never seen a Wimpy Kid film then you’ve missed out on the Heffley family’s wacky hijinks filled, situational mishaps with heart-warming morals that you can’t help but smile at. Every actor perfectly fits their role, allowing them to effortlessly portray a family struggling to connect with each other at the forefront of Greg’s misadventures.

You know that happy family decal people stick on the back windows of their minivans? The beauty of watching Susan and Frank Heffley’s struggle in child rearing is being exposed to their desperate attempts at good parenting to recreate those happy depthless faces on the stickers. Susan tries with inclusive parenting while Frank tries by submerging himself in work and hobbies in order to forget about the delinquencies of his sons. Steve Zhan is great as the eye bulging, short-tempered dad who has to deal with the disappointments of both Greg and his older wanna be rock star brother, Rodrick, and how the two try to outsmart him on several occasions. Yet the tender moments shared between Frank and Greg are moving and believable, recalling to mind the strained attempts at father and son bonding from classics of the past.

The relationships of and between characters is wonderfully written and developed as Dog Days is much more focused on the relationship of Frank and Greg than the past films have been. Frank’s hobby as a Civil War reenacter gets humorously fleshed out and his childhood and desires as a parent get touched on as well. On the other hand, Greg, now slightly older with a bit more confidence around his crush Holly, is still the same ol’ 13-year-old who humorously chokes up during conversation and lies on the spot to make himself appear more suave than he is.

Now because we’re shown these characters in all their grandeur, we’re also resulted to enduring the painfully stupid mistakes of a 13-year-old boy for the second half of the film. In one scene while at a pool Greg hears a woman comment on a man’s high dive. He immediately thinks, “sure this is what all chicks are impressed by,” so he climbs the high dive after seeing Holly sitting poolside. He clumsily loses his grip slipping off the board and slashing into the water, leaving his swim trunks stranded on the board. Too embarrassed to ask for help, Greg wades for hours before finally asking an employee for help. But instead of simply asking for his misplaced shorts, he asks for the shorts in the chair across him— a random pair of women’s hot pants… It can get very annoying having to witness Greg’s idiotic plans or ideas whether or not you remember he’s only a preteen.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series have been consistently entertaining and Dog Days is no exception. It has a childish humor but directed with an adult wit that combines elements of slapstick and great comedic timing from everyone involved. It’s a film that somehow captures the awkward ridiculousness that comes with being a preteen but it makes the bad memories laughable, at least for a few moments.

SEE IT. And revert back to your preteen days.

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