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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days | Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Steve Zahn, Rachael Harris, Robert Capron | Review

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  4_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid:  Dog Days | Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Steve Zahn, Rachael Harris, Robert Capron | Review

The whole gang is back in this third installment of the Wimpy Kid franchise, based on the wildly popular Jeff Kinney books.

Finished with 7th grade, Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) has the whole lazy summer ahead of him, which he’d like to spend in a darkened room, playing video games.  His parents, Susan and Frank (Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn) have other plans, including Wilderness Scouts and a Reading Club.  Poor Greg, never in charge of his own fate, must think up a way to get out of these expectations and incorporate perpetual crush Holly (Peyton List) into his daily routine.

An invitation from best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) gets Greg into the local Country Club, where Holly volunteers as a children’s tennis coach.  Telling his parents that he has a job to keep them off of his back, Greg enjoys Holly’s company, endless smoothies, a luxurious pool, and his parents’ approval.

All this is threatened by big brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick), a nightmare of a sibling who employs blackmail to coerce Greg into sneaking him into the country club, so he can moon over Holly’s sister Heather (Melissa Roxburgh) a shallow mean girl who lifeguards only to fulfill a school requirement.

Of course, this arrangement can’t and doesn’t last, and Greg can’t seem to get out from under his father’s disapproval.  Looming above his head is the threat of spending 8th grade enrolled at Spag Union, a strict boy’s school that seems more like a prison.

Vignettes pepper the film, spicing it up with even more opportunities for embarrassment, misunderstanding, and accidents.  Friends Fregley (Grayson Russell) and Chirag (Karan Brar) enter the scene as Wilderness Scouts, and obnoxious brace-face Patty (Laine MacNeill) haunts the country club tennis court with a mean serve and an even meaner attitude about Greg & Co.

Line drawings from the Kinney book series periodically punctuate the action.  Greg’s little brother Warren (Connor and Owen Fielding) now four, causes his own mischief.  New pet, Sweetie (Oliver) is a big mop full of destructive trouble himself.

Zachary Gordon once again charms as the awkward nebbish that seems to live perpetually behind the 8-ball.  Devon Bostick portrays the devilish older sibling with a malicious charisma that is attractive and repellant at the same time.  The two young actors flesh out their stick figure counterparts, delivering zany, sincere, and scathing emotions with comedic timing and priceless facial expressions.

Robert Capron’s Rowley is still the remarkably good-natured soul that teaches Greg about friendship.  Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn continue to create a set of parents who embody the square, nerdy, well-meaning role models that contrast their sons’ antics so well.  Peyton List is effective at making Holly an object of desire with a sweet, somewhat plastic performance.

Grayson Russell is an endearing gross-out as the hygiene-impaired Fregley.
Karan Brar’s Chirag is good for a precocious, embarrassing observation or two.

Director David Bowers (Astro Boy) has an extensive background in animation that makes him right at home with translating drawings off of a page into characters on a screen.  He also directed the first DOAWK film.  Screenwriters Gabe Sachs (a DOAWK veteran who worked on all three scripts) and husband and wife team Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodowsky (Monsters vs. Aliens) deliver a script, full of dorky, snarky repartee.

DOAWK films enjoy popularity because kids identify with Heffley, whose escapades resonate with more than a few adults as well.  With family dynamics, friendship, adolescent foibles, young love, and now pet ownership in the mix, who COULDN’T relate?

Even Greg Heffley, wimp extraordinaire, would have to agree.

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