Movies: Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules ***
In Diary of a Wimpy Kid 1, which was based on the rather winning comic books by Jeff Kinney, 11-year-old Greg Heffney (Zachary Gordon) found the going tough at school and at home, where he was persecuted by his demonic older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick).
In Wimpy Kid 2, things haven't improved all that much, despite the arrival of a beautiful girl at his middle school.
Greg is instantly smitten with Holly Hills (Peyton R List), a svelte blonde teen who seems perfect in every regard. Trouble is, Greg is a wimp, a nerd -- choose your own derogatory term -- who is considered beyond the pale by the cool kids in class and therefore hasn't a hope with old Holly.
He and Rodrick are still at each other's throats as well, and when their bickering gets out of hand their parents (Rachel Harris and Steve Zahn) leave them behind when they go on a trip to a theme park. Rodrick throws a wild party, in which Greg is somehow implicated, and if their parents ever find out they'll be in big trouble. Thus, the warring brothers are forced to work together, and for a time an entente cordiale seems possible. But an upcoming school talent contest is a potential flashpoint, and Greg is still trying to woo the elusive Holly.
In the first Wimpy Kid film, young Gregory's obnoxious and self-serving personality rather spoilt an otherwise likeable teen comedy. Our hero is more winning here, and although Wimpy Kid 2 has been described as formulaic in US reviews, I rather warmed to it.
There's a sweet daftness to the overall tone, and the performances from Gordon, Robert Capron (who plays Gary's faithful buddy Rowley) and especially Bostick are excellent. He gets great mileage out of the lazy and scheming Rodrick, a would-be rock drummer who's not as odious as he seems.
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