Review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

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School is out and Greg is ready for the days of summer, when all his plans go wrong. Based on the books "The Last Straw" and "Dog Days", the third film in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has Zachary Gordon reprising the role of Greg while Steve Zahn once again plays his dad, Frank Heffley.
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Movie Review: "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days"

-- Rating: PG
Length: 1 hr. 33 min.
Release Date: August 3, 2012
Directed by: David Bowers
Genre: Comedy, Kids and Family

If you were a fan of the book series, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," then you will want to see the latest movie installment, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days." The movie is based on the third and fourth books of the series, "The Last Straw" and "Dog Days." It is directed by David Bowers, and this is the second full-length feature film he has directed.

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" opens with Greg, played by Zachary Gordon, visiting the local public pool with his family, the Heffleys. Greg is entrusted with watching his younger brother Manny (played by twins Owen and Conner Fielding), who is good at getting into things, which results in trouble and much embarrassment for Greg.

On the last day of school, Greg attempts to get Holly Hills (Peyton List) to write her phone number in his yearbook, but she is called away before she can provide the last two digits. Getting Holly's number, and her attention in general, becomes Greg's biggest goal for the summer. Meanwhile, Greg's older brother, Roderick (Devon Bostick), falls for Holly's mean, older sister, Heather (Melissa Roxburgh), but she rebuffs him. So, the brothers decide they are going to do whatever they can to spend time with the Hill sisters.

Determined that his sons are not going to waste their summer playing video games, Frank (Steve Zahn) proclaims that television and video games are off limits. Greg and Roderick's mother, Susan (Rachael Harris), reminds Frank that he needs to spend time with his kids, especially Greg, so he doesn't repeat the mistakes his father made with him. This leads to several disastrous outings, including a civil war reenactment and a fishing trip. Convinced his son needs more direction, Frank considers sending Greg off to a boarding school, which helped one of Roderick's friends.

Greg and his best friend Rowley Jefferson (Jeff Capron) begin spending afternoons at the Country Club where the Jefferson's are members. While at the club, Greg discovers that Holly teaches tennis. Despite being unable to play the sport, Greg sets up a tennis match between him, Holly and Rowley. When Holly realizes that neither Greg nor Rowley know how to play, she teaches Greg herself.

When Greg finds out that his father has signed him up for an internship where he works, Greg panics, and lies, saying he has a job at the country club. To cover his tracks, he starts going there every day, posing as a member of the Jefferson family. This leads to some entertaining and costly adventures down the road as the summer progresses.

The movie is a good exploration into the relationships between father and son, especially when a father is trying to over-compensate for the relationship he did not have with his own father, and how those missed opportunities for connecting can lead to problems. It also explores how patient a mother of three boys has to be.

The movie does a good job in revealing the ways young teens go about interacting with each other outside of school. It also delves into the concept of personal responsibility and reporting things that you know are wrong, even if it results in problems for you later. These points are perfectly illustrated when Greg and his father go on a scouting camping trip and a rival troop thwart their plans at every opportunity. The end result of the camping trip adventure fosters an improved relationship between Frank and Greg, with Frank making an interesting confession, to Greg's relief and amusement.

Fans of the books and the previous two movies will enjoy the third movie installment. It is definitely for kids, but adults will be able to relate to the movie, either through remembering their own young lives or from having seen their children in similar situations. Gordon is believable as the wimpy, but brave when necessary, Greg, while Capron is perfect as his loyal and long-suffering friend Rowley. Anyone who has had an encounter with the "popular girls" from school can relate to Roxburgh's Heather, as well as her nicer younger sister played by List.

If you enjoy movies with kids who find themselves in situations where everything that can possibly go wrong, goes wrong, and yet, it all works out in the end, then you will enjoy this movie.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars