Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days | Movie review
The third film from Jeff Kinney’s kid-lit series takes a Seinfeld–ian view of life.
Adapted from two books in Jeff Kinney’s popular children’s-lit series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days speaks to a profound truth of the human experience—namely, that being in middle school totally sucks. With Seinfeld-style observations about the minute frustrations of daily life, director David Bowers transforms tweendom’s tiny struggles into amusingly enormous drama: A visit to the town pool with clueless parents and obnoxious siblings becomes a minefield of potential—and potentially traumatic—embarrassment. The tensest thing titular dweeb Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) does over Dog Days’ 94 minutes is ask a girl he likes to sign his yearbook—because, to a dweeby seventh-grader, nothing is more tense than asking a girl to sign your yearbook.
Summer is underway, and after Dad (a warmly low-key Steve Zahn) unplugs the family video-game console—gasp!—Greg and his awkward pals spend their vacation sneaking into country clubs, testing their outdoorsmanship and trying hard not to look like dorks in front of their crushes. The second half of Dog Days isn’t as good as the first, not because the movie loses momentum but because it gains it, in a series of excessively antic broad-comic set pieces. Still, viewers, whether they’re enduring early adolescence or grappling with its psychic scars, will recognize the honesty in many moments of comic humiliation.