The latest adaptation in Jeff Kinney’s best-selling children’s illustrated series finds the nerdy Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) taking lessons from his older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) in order to survive and thrive as a tween in the middle and junior high school world.
The first movie set up Greg’s world and populated it with a cast of characters that were familiar and functional — his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron), his square Mom (Rachael Harris) and Dad (Steve Zahn) and his nemesis Patty (Laine MacNeil).
The follow-up continues to explore the put-upon existence of a modern tween, but falls out of step by aiming too low in terms of its demographics. This Diary installment feels like it was made for the age group beneath the tweens; its humor and lack of storytelling focus strays so far from today’s television formula for this audience that it might not even truly hold the attention of that younger set.
There should have been real drama between Greg and his older brother Rodrick because there is a significant gap in age, one worthy of exploring, just as the one between Greg and his younger brother Manny (played by Owen and Connor Fielding). That movie would have totally ruled. Instead, director David Bowers (Flushed Away, Astro Boy) takes over the reins from Thor Freudenthal (Hotel for Dogs) and crafts a movie that plays like a fractured half-hour television series for kids. Grade: D