I was an awkward kid growing up; a transient who was forced to adapt to different surroundings and the subcultures within. This made it hard to make friends with other kids who were only familiar with their own demographic. At some point (thank God), I grew up and became an adult who was admired for all the things everyone hated about me as a kid. Sadly, I am also now the parent of an equally awkward kid. HE can’t help it, really; he’s merely a reflection of his parents. So when my son (an already avid reader) started reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, I understood the interest and supported him. I bought every book. I went to see every film adaptation; happy kid in tow. It actually spawned our favorite activity since my divorce from my son’s father: attending movies together. Now, with the latest installation of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, our tradition continues. This time around, we get to see the familiar scenes that come along with the author’s book series, but with an entirely new cast.
The film starts off with the usual set-up of the Heffley family making efforts to spend time together; ending in disaster for the middle son, Greg (around whom the series revolves).
Since I have seen the other films, it is difficult to warm up to the new cast. Alicia Silverstone is far from convincing as Susan Heffley, a mother of three sons. I know she is 40, but she hasn’t aged enough for the role. On the flip side, Tom Everett Scott has aged too much to play Frank Heffley. This was an unwise idea for casting. Fortunately, the actor for Greg Heffley’s character (Jason Drucker) definitely handles the stunts and comedic exploits that his character finds himself getting into. Since the plot centers on a family road trip, the usual supporting cast is absent. The five main characters are great actors, but not great for their respective roles, had to carry the film. The script had a few holes due to editing, but then again, to fill those plot holes would require more time, and the movie needn’t be any longer than what it already is.
The camaraderie of the cast wasn’t there, which actually worked in the movie’s favor as they were playing family members that really weren’t trying to spend any time together. Interesting enough, the only member of the family who had any level of cool in their personality, was the youngest Heffley; Manny (Wyatt and Dylan Walters). There were some slapstick comedic moments which come with any family-friendly film (being attacked by seagulls for cheese curls, winning a baby pig that stinks up the minivan, etc.), and the visual effects left much to be desired, but that added to the comedy.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has undoubtedly encouraged a new generation to read books again. However, the fans could have done without this addition. That, and the fact that the 4 year gap between films really caused the franchise to lose momentum.
I give it 2 out of 5 seedy motels.