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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

2012 | 94 min | PG | 2.39:1

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days


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1 user review

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Theatrical release date

 03 August, 2012
 03 August, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

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Screenshots from Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days Blu-ray

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, August 2, 2012

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” welcomes back the Heffley Family for another round of screen tomfoolery, this time themed around summer vacation woes. Instead of easing viewers back into the flow of the ongoing PG-rated adventure, director David Bowers stages a moment where the youngest Heffley member, toddler Manny, is observed using a urinal cake as hand soap, and our hero, Greg, is caught in a public pool filled with peeing children. And this is the first five minutes of the movie, folks. It’s a long season for the crude “Wimpy Kid” routine, with this second sequel as lackluster and disjointed as the two films that preceded it. “Dog Days” indeed.

School’s out for Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) and all he wants to do over the long summer is play video games and try to hang out with his crush, Holly (Peyton List). Sensing a slight estrangement between the pair, mother Susan (Rachael Harris) urges husband Frank (Steve Zahn) to spend some quality time with Greg, hoping time shared with a scouting group eases tense relations. Greg doesn’t share the enthusiasm, instead tagging along with pal Rowley (Robert Capron) on numerous trips to a country club, where Holly is teaching tennis. Navigating the uptight world of Rowley’s parents, Greg is pestered by older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick), who also wants access to the exclusive club to impress Holly’s older sister. Forced to lie to maintain time with Holly, Greg faces various humiliations throughout the summer, though nothing compares to the trauma of being found out by his parents, possibly ending the season with enrollment in the brutal Spag Union Military School.

His second trip to the “Wimpy Kid” well after last year’s “Rodrick Rules,” Bowers displays more confidence with “Dog Days” now having cracked the franchise code, boiling down the picture to episodic misadventures, collected from two books in the popular Jeff Kinney literary series. There’s really no overriding plot to follow outside of Greg’s summertime blues, leaving the screenplay to swerve erratically around the “Wimpy Kid” universe, with the second sequel keeping tabs on Frank’s troubles with fatherhood, the introduction of mischievous dog Sweetie, Greg’s trips with Rowley, and Rodrick’s desire to find love inside the country club.

“Dog Days” is a hurried picture, attempting to cram a colossal amount of material into a single effort. The binge mentality mucks with the pacing, which feels erratic and anticlimactic, while several subplots are poorly established, trying to force conflict with fringe characters the movie has barely spent any time with. Bowers is working up a sweat to placate fans hunting for their favorite moments from the books, yet botches the flow of story, leaving a half-realized film behind that’s not particularly amusing or interesting, finding nearly all of Greg’s dilemmas easily solved by basic methods of communication. The script doesn’t even bother to challenge the lead character, instead establishing the boy as a shockingly inconsiderate idiot who freely dumps on his friends to protect his own interests. The feature’s message about honesty and personal responsibility is hardly felt, especially after enduring 90 minutes of Greg’s whining and his marginally mean-spirited shenanigans.

Keeping “Dog Days” at least partly appealing is Zahn, who delivers a nice read of a father who really doesn’t have much interest in his own children, walking into parenting situations with the delicacy of a man crossing a minefield. I also enjoyed a theme park outing with Greg and Rowley, who board an enormous thrill ride against their better judgment, with Bowers capturing the very real motion with low-res digital cameras to augment the authenticity of the moment.

There’s also charm in Gordon’s awkward movement and crackly, deepening voice, finding the kid of the title maturing much faster than his co-stars. I’d suggest to the producers that they should consider speeding up the sequel process before Gordon completes puberty, but that would be encouraging more of these films. After the tiresome, inconsequential “Dog Days,” enough is enough.

Starring: Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn, Rachael Harris, Peyton List, Robert Capron, Devon Bostick
Director: David Bowers

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