I’m known to be a huge fan of the Diary of A Wimpy Kid book series.
In fact, I still buy the books when a new edition gets published. I don’t care if I’m not technically part of their intended demographic. They were a huge part of my childhood, and Greg Heffley was by far one of by most influential book characters in my life. So when I say that Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is an awful movie, I mean it.
Don’t tell me that these movies are ‘just for kids’ and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Referring back to the original trilogy, these characters were always full of relatable situations and realistic comedy. The Heffley family had their quirks and dysfunctional moments, but they were always full of chemistry and touching revelations.
This obviously spawned from a perfect series of books written by Jeff Kinney that defined my childhood and my personality.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t reflect on the quality of the new film.
The animation and visual effects were decent (which was something I expected to see judging by the past films). I’ve always found it cool how they could implement the illustration and doodles into real life through animations. That’s one of the few things I quite liked about the film.
I guess the camerawork also wasn’t bad, although the dramatic editing sometimes ruined it in certain scenes. I’m really nitpicking for compliments here because there wasn’t much to take out of this film.
I’m quite on the fence about the film’s attempts to modernise the story.
Jeff Kinney started writing these books in the 2000s, a time directly before kids starting being obsessed with social media or applications like Youtube or Snapchat.
Even though it can be a little bit outdated, I liked the idea of how timeless the books felt. A time when teenagers weren’t as addicted to specific phone applications and more interested in things that were happening around them.
The introduction of these concepts, social media, and even memes (yes, Greg Heffley becomes a meme *facepalms*) felt very bizarre and out of place.
Ever since the release of the trailer a couple of months ago, I knew what I was expecting.
The casting, for one, could have been much better. Maybe it’s just because they’re living in the shadows of the original cast, but I felt that the acting cast would not have been my first choice.
I still can’t get over the fact that the new actor for Roderick doesn’t look anywhere like he should, a role Devon Bostick owned and portrayed perfectly. And there will never be a replacement for Zach Gordon, who I believe will always be the definitive Greg Heffley.
There was something about the original cast that brought an original sense of realism and humour to a situation. They also had perfect chemistry, which was really well presented on screen as a family.
In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, the Heffley family all felt very disjointed and forced. I did not, for even a second, believe that they were a real family. It all felt very acted.
Speaking about acting, the performances were downright awful and cringe. Everything said just felt like lines being memorised from a script; nothing felt real. The actors didn’t even have much comedic timing.
I even had problems with the characterisations of the characters as well.
Aside from the questionable casting and acting, the actual characters themselves don’t feel like the ones we’re familiar with in the books. Instead they appear to be much more two-dimensional and even stereotyped so that the audience can make quick assumptions about the characters.
For example, Greg Heffley may have always been a jerk, and not the best student, but he wasn’t dumb. There were many scenes where Greg would be depicted as ‘not the brightest’ and I just couldn’t connect with him as a character anymore.
Now, surely, as a comedy, they could get a few solid laughs, right? I don’t remember a comedy recently that has resorted to an assortment of fart and poop jokes. Yes, that’s the standard of comedy present here.
What’s worse is that every scene is another ‘comedic’ moment, scene after scene, so you don’t really care for the family’s situation because it all feels like several skits edited together. Forget all the situational comedy and relatable awkward moments that you remember from the original trilogy, this reboot is full of unfunny and cringeworthy humour that will leave you face palming in the theatre.
The one thing that the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid franchise has always done right that separated itself from other generic high school comedies is their element of touching and heartfelt moments.
Greg can often be seen as a selfish and thoughtless character, especially to his family or his friend, Rowley. It’s this trait that makes for comedy-gold scenarios and a solid character arc.
However, they never fail to emphasise the consequences of his actions, and the choices he makes to make up for his behaviour. It’s this that creates emotional and sentimental moments between him and his family or friends.
This, however, has none of that.
Instead, you get a half-assed attempt of scenes with sad music cut between stupid moments to ruin any pre-built up sentiment. And this developing arc leads to nowhere as well, except to maybe a useless apology.
If you ask me, it’s a pathetic attempt at giving the story more depth and made the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid franchise much more shallower.
I don’t know what went wrong here.
I’ve been told that the people involved in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (script, storyboard, etc.) were all the same as the original trilogy, so what the hell happened?
I might revisit the original trilogy just to refresh my mind and forget about the atrocity that I just saw, because a part of my childhood was just ruined.
I could say that it’s still an ‘okay’ film that you can bring your kids to watch on the holidays (judging by the families that seemed to be enjoying themselves), but I reckon you’re better off watching Cars 3 or even Despicable Me 3. I tried giving this movie the benefit of the doubt, I really did. What a shame.
My rating: 3/10