When a film comes out that is clearly aimed to appeal to children, it can be tough to determine how to measure its quality. The best family films can appeal to children and adults, sometimes by different means, but the Diary of a Wimpy Kid films have certainly been built leaning more towards the kids. Now the fourth films based off the fourth book has been released in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul and it should be ready to make more children happy.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul tells the story of young Greg Heffley, who at a family restaurant finds himself with a diaper on his hand. Thanks to parents filming him rather than helping, he winds up becoming a meme by the name of Diaper Hands.
In the hope of shaking off this internet publicity, he hopes to meet internet gaming superstar Mac Digby at an expo so he can have a different video go viral. To do this he discovers that a family road trip is going near the player expo, so plans to sneak away at an opportune time to attend.
When the road trip starts he finds a large spanner in the works as his mum decides to ban technology, making for a moody car filled with bored kids, and Greg’s bored dad. This road trip is a significant part of the film, and the bulk of the humour comes from cliché jokes from the road trip genre and Greg’s older brother Rodrick, who is the most extreme caricature of a moody teen I have ever seen.
They swing for the fences a lot with the jokes, and enough landed that I didn’t hate watching the film, and it’s certainly a lot more enjoyable if you treat it like the satire it almost feels like it is. But the older generations aren’t the target demographics and a lot of jokes seem like they have been aimed at the kids.
The acting is hyperbolic in every way, to the point where it’s indistinguishable between iffy acting or intentional exaggeration. Aleesha Silverstone is pretty good as the mother but the rest merges into a low-budget kid flick level of quality, like what you would expect from a Nickelodeon live action straight to TV comedy.
The Blu-ray features are surprisingly well fleshed out, with features to appeal to multiple ages. For the kids, there is Greg Heffleys 10 rules for the perfect road trip and Road games which are both presented by the star of the film. For kids and adults, there is the feature Learn to Draw, which has the creator Jeff Kinney showing how to draw the characters from the books. Then for the adults, there are features like Making a scene, in-depth explanation of how the film was made. The surprising feature A decade of wimpy, which has Jeff Kinney and film creators talking about the franchise, which even as someone who has no knowledge of the book series, I found interesting.
6/10 – Adults will likely find this film isn’t aimed at them, from the silliness and the overacting, but it should happily entertain the kids. Having said that there are still plenty of laughs to be had from the whole family so it’s worth a watch on a lazy Sunday.