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Diary of a Wimpy Kid (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 27, 2013 by  



dragon

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is an enjoyable film but I do acknowledge some of the concerns that parents have towards the main protagonist and his actions.  My son felt this is one of the best movies he watched and for me, I felt the film carries a lot of humor but also an intriguing take of one child’s worries of becoming popular or unpopular in middle school.  But also featuring an important message at the end of the film that I felt children could learn from.

Images courtesy of © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

FILM RELEASE: 2010

DURATION: 92 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spansih and French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin

COMPANY: 20th Century Fox

RATED: PG (Some Rude Humor and Language)

Release Date: May 21, 2013

Directed by Thor Freudenthal

Based on the book by Jeff Kinney

Screenplay by Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo, Gabe Sachs, Jeff Judah

Produced by Nina Jacobson, Bradford Simpson

Executive Producer: Jeff Kinney

Co-Producer: Ethan Smith

Music by Theodore Shapiro

Cinematography by Jack N. Green

Edited by Wendy Greene Bricmont

Production Design by Brent Thomas

Art Direction by Shannon Grover

Set Decoration by Mary-Lou Storey

Costume Design by Monique Prudhomme

Starring:

Zachary Gordon as Greg Heffley

Robert Capron as Rowley Jefferson

Rachael Harris as Susan Heffley

Steve Zahn as Frank Heffley

Connor Fielding as Manny Heffley

Devon Bostick as Rodrick Hefflrey

Chloe Grace Moretz as Angie Steadman

Karan Brar as Chirag Gupta

Grayson Russell as Fregley

Laine MacNeil as Patty Farrell

Alex Ferris as Collin

Andrew McNee as Coach Malone

The hysterically funny, best-selling book comes to life in this smash-hit family comedy! Greg Heffley is headed for big things, but first he has to survive the scariest, most humiliating experience of any kid’s life – middle school! That won’t be easy, considering he’s surrounded by hairy-freckled morons, wedgie-loving bullies and a moldy slice of cheese with nuclear cooties!

In 2004, game designer/cartoonist Jeff Kinney wrote the realistic fiction novel “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”.

While the story first appeared on FunBrain.com in 2004 (and read over 20 million times), the hardcover version was released in 2007 and became a New York Times best seller earning critical acclaim and winning many awards.

Since “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, Kinney has since written nine “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel” books and also created the popular online, role-playing game “Poptropica”.

But also, a total of three film adaptations were created and the first “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” film was released in theaters in 2010.  Made with a budget of $15 million, the film would go on to earn over $75 million in the box office.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” revolves around an 11-year-old named Greg Heffley (portrayed by Zachary Gordon), who is beginning middle school along with his best friend Rowley Jefferson (portrayed by Robert Capron).  For Greg, his goal is to be popular in school but worries about his friend Rowley who he feels embarrassed for, because Rowley has a childish personality and loves to wear clothes that Greg thinks is uncool and riding a child’s “Joshie” (a European pop star) bike with streamers on the handlebars.  And doesn’t want to be the last person in popularity, who is the very weird student named Fregley (portrayed by Grayson Russell).

Meanwhile, at home, Greg is often bullied by his older brother Rodrick (portrayed by Devon Bostick), who tries to scare Greg about middle school.  His mother Susan (portrayed by Rachael Harris) is a caring mother but tends to treat Greg like a little kid and often busy trying to raise his little brother Manny (portrayed by Connor and Owen Fielding), while his father Frank (portrayed by Steve Zahn) is often working on a battlefield set and wants his son to take part in athletics.

While at middle school, Greg and Rowley learn about the legend of the “cheese touch” (a slice of cheese that is moldy and stuck on the asphalt and no one wants to touch it or be touched by the person who touches it) from their friend Chirag Gupta (portrayed by Karan Brar).

At middle school, Greg and Rowley quickly learn that fitting in and being popular in middle school is not exactly easy.  His rival Patty Farrell (portrayed by Laine MacNeil) beat him up twice when they were younger and now she is running for class president and adds to the difficulty of being a student.  But they meet Angie Steadman (portrayed by Chloe Grace Moretz) who works for the school paper but a student who is too mature and not interested in socializing with the other kids at her school.

Angie tries to help Greg, but Greg is not interested in listening to her and is more concerned of growing his own popularity.

So, as Greg and Rowley try to find ways to grow in popularity.  From joining the wrestling team, trying to be mature and wear a nice shirt and tie (which he finds out that Rowley is wearing the same exact clothing, leading to more teasing by students), joining the Safety Patrol and more.  But what happens when the choices that Greg makes starts to backfire? And what happens when he chooses a path that leads him to betraying his own best friend?

VIDEO:

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio).  The film looks great on Blu-ray.  Skin tones are natural, picture quality is very colorful, black levels are nice and deep.  There is a thin layer of grain and the overall look of the film is warm.  I didn’t notice any artifacts, edge enhancement or excessive DNR while watching the film on Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish and French Dolby Digital.  For a film such as “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, a lot of lossless audio is primarily dialogue.  The film does have quite a bit of music which come alive during the film and shows good dynamic range.  There is not a whole lot of ambiance for the film, but dialogue and music is crystal clear, no an immersive soundtrack but is appropriate for this type of film.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese and Mandarin.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” comes with the following special features:

  • Feature Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Director Thor Freudenthal and writer Gabe Sachs.
  • Deleted Diary Pages – A few short featurettes which include the short featurettes such as  Fregley’s Scavenger Hunt (2:56) which grossed out my wife, Chirag’s Trail of Tears (2:37) which shows locations of where he has been bullied, Fregley’s Shuffle (:47) and the film’s deleted scenes: Mom Drops Greg  Off at School, Greg and Rowley Jump Over the Wall, Mr. Winsky’s Safety Patrol Assignment, Mom Suggests a Friendship Card, Greg Meets Fregley’s mom, Greg has the Cheese Touch and there is also a gallery (which you need to use your remote) to view five of Rowley’s Lost “Zoo-Wee Mama” cartoons.
  • And Now a Word from Our Author – (3:39) Author Jeff Kinney talks with young actors Zachary Gordon and Robert Capron about the film.  This featurette is a Blu-ray exclusive.
  • Theatrical Trailer

EXTRAS:

The version of “Diary of Wimpy Kid” that I am reviewing comes with a DVD and also a Digital Copy of the film.

As a parent of a child who is captivated with each yearly book release of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, for years I have seen him laugh and reference the book (especially the “cheese touch”) many times.  Even learning a few things from the book that we had to discipline him a few times.

But for the most part, it’s a book about the life of boys going into middle school and learning quickly about popularity and not wanting to be last in popularity. As much as we hope as parents that the experiences that we had back in school will no longer affect children these days, the fact is that it will continue to be a part of a student’s life throughout grade school, even no matter what country you live in.  Children are faced with a lot of situations and some just don’t want to be labeled unpopular or be mistreated by classmates.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is about a boy named Greg Heffley who desires to be popular but unfortunately, he is too fixated by it and each time he tries too achieve popularity, it backfires.

But what happens when Greg tries to impose his wanting to be popular on his friend Rowley (who just cares about being friends with Greg and not too interested of being popular).

While there is a lesson to be learned about Greg’s attitude of wanting to be popular and even hurting his friendship with Rowley , I can understand the criticism by a few critics who have felt that the character of Greg Heffley is unpleasant.  And I have to agree.

If I was a parent of Rowley and found out another child was making him change or to partake in things that they are not interested in, my advice would be to enjoy life the way you want and if that friend doesn’t accept you, don’t hang out with them.

I have not read any of the “Diary of the Wimpy Kid” books but while I sat there watching alongside my wife and son, my wife would mutter “that’s not very nice!” while my son, holding his first “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book, was really getting into the film.  Even I found myself saying “what a jerk!” when it came to Greg’s actions.

But I suppose that is the case for not just Greg but a lot of people who try to change themselves to become popular.  Some are able to become athletes and discover their true potential, some exceed in other areas in school but some fail miserably.  Greg Heffley is the latter and has to learn through his experiences that he was not a good friend and he put his scheme of trying to be popular ahead of his own friendship with Rowley.  And there is a lesson to be learned with this film.

I suppose that children who read the book will enjoy this film, while parents may feel “why is there a film about a kid who is a bad influence?” or maybe even remind them of the troubles of their own past in grade school.  Personally, I looked at the film as a good example of karma.  What goes around, comes around and in the case of Greg Heffley, he learns an important lesson that being a jerk is not cool!

As for the Blu-ray release, you get an audio commentary, a few short featurettes including a disgusting featurette with the character of Fregley and deleted scenes.  And with this version that I am reviewing, the Blu-ray comes with a DVD and digital copy.  So, great for parents on a commute or wants to keep their children occupied with the film on their smartphone or tablet.

Overall, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is an enjoyable film but I do acknowledge some of the concerns that parents have towards the main protagonist and his actions.  My son felt this is one of the best movies he watched and for me, I felt the film carries a lot of humor but also an intriguing take of one child’s worries of becoming popular or unpopular in middle school.  But also featuring an important message at the end of the film that I felt children could learn from.

While some parents will be protective of their children and may not approve of the behavior of children as featured in this film, I do feel it’s a family film that can encourage conversations between parents and their children but also a film that families can watch together.

 






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