DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL
Two and a half stars
Director: David Bowers
Starring: Jason Drucker, Alicia Silverstone, Tom Everett Scott
Running time: 91 minutes
Verdict S trictly for the young ‘uns
THIS is fourth book in Jeff Kinney’s best-selling kids series to be adapted for the big screen, but the first to have been written specifically with a movie in mind.
“We get the Heffleys out of their house, their neighbourhood and on the road,’’ says the author, who co-wrote the screenplay with animator-turned-director David Bowers (The Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, 2011, and the Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, 2012.)
The mishaps and misadventures that naturally occur along the way are accurately conveyed in the title: Long Haul pretty much sums this movie up.
What’s hardest to stomach about the atavistic family comedy is its lazy, predictable characterisation: mum is portrayed as a sentimental kill joy and dad as a conflict-averse fence sitter.
The arduous journey begins when Susan Heffley (played valiantly if a tad over-enthusiastically by Alicia Silverstone) decides to take her family on an old-fashioned road trip.
Once they hit the freeway, Susan commandeers everybody’s smart phone so the travellers can bond over family sing-a-longs and silly car games.
Five years have passed since the Wimpy Kid’s last screen outing, so the titular character, whose parents named him Greg, is now played by Jason Drucker (at 18, Zachary Gordon, has definitely outgrown the role.)
The filmmakers have wisely upgraded his parents and siblings at the same time.
Tom Everett Scott replaces Steve Zahn in the role of Greg’s father, Frank, and Charlie Wright is his new, but still clueless brother Rodrick.
While it feels wrong to single out infant performers, the new Manny Heffley (played by Dylan and Wyatt Walters) stands out for all the wrong reasons.
When the film opens, Greg has become a laughing stock amongst his peers thanks to a video involving one of his brother’s dirty nappies.
His initial antipathy towards the family road trip shifts abruptly to enthusiasm when he hatches a plan to rescue his tarnished reputation by re-routing to a gaming convention along the way.
Mayhem — and a string of poo jokes — ensue.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is now showing.
Originally published as Road trippin’ with the Wimpy Kid