I really enjoyed the first 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' movie. It was a light-hearted, energetic film about adolescence and childhood that really captured what it's like being in junior high. Kids worry about the silliest things, but at that age, popularity, coolness, and being liked by your peers are the most important things on earth.
Rambunctious youngster Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is back and moving into high school. Truthfully, I didn't know there was enough interest in the first movie to warrant a sequel, but I'm glad there was. Based on the young adult books written by Jeff Kinney, 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' captures the simplicity of growing up. What do kids think about when confronted with bullies, brothers, and brothers who double as bullies?
Greg has a flaw that carries on into the second movie in the franchise. He's desperate to be thought of as cool and popular. The problem is that Greg surrounds himself with friends who seem less cool in order to make himself appear that much cooler. His friends Rowley (Robert Capron) and Fregley aren't really popular material. Even though it isn't said, Greg seems to put these people around him so he can look better. Greg stinks of desperation, but Rowley exudes optimism, even though he's slightly overweight and wears uncool sweaters to school everyday.
What I like most about the 'Wimpy Kid' movies is that they aren't mean and spiteful. So many high school movies nowadays are full of vindictive characters that spend most of their time texting and attending raucous house parties where there must be at least one glimpse of two girls kissing in the corner. These movies aren't like that. They've got a more likeable spirit about them. They seem to actually mirror real childhood, rather than the Hollywood version of childhood that we've been force fed over the years.
This newest entry in the series is called 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.' Rodrick is Greg's big brother. Rodrick was a simple side character in the first movie, but still had his moments as the emo-wannabe older brother who thinks he's a much better drummer than he is. In this movie, however, Greg comes face to face with his big brother in a battle of sibling rivalry. The two of them are at each other's throats most of the time, but their mother feels it's high time that they start getting along. Like most parents who don't understand the real dynamics of their children, she forces them to spend time together. You can just guess how that turns out.
The story of Greg and Rodrick is pretty much a paint-by-numbers plot. That's not what makes 'Rodrick Rules' fun. It's the cheery atmosphere, the funny characters, the wonderful actors, and the fun performances. That's what makes these movies worth watching. It's easy to relate to Greg as he darts behind walls to get a glimpse of his first crush, because most of us can remember doing that at one time or another when we were in 7th grade. We understand what it's like to have a bullying older brother because maybe we had one, or maybe we were one. We fondly remember what it was like being a kid and so do the 'Wimpy Kid' movies.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Rodrick Rule's lacks the cumbersome, but somewhat fun slipcover that the first movie came with. Instead it comes in a standard Blu-ray case with a BD-50 Blu-ray Disc, a DVD, and an extra disc for the Digital Copy. Fox notes on the back that this is a region A only release.
'Rodrick Rules' light and breezy video presentation mirrors the first Blu-ray release of 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid'. The only difference here is that the first movie was framed in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio while this one is framed with a 2.35:1 ratio. Other than that they look exactly the same.
The color palette is bright and lively, just like the characters. Skin tones are always natural, exhibiting the small differences in the characters from Fregely's pasty white skin to Rowley's rosy cheeks. Detail is nice. It's easy to see small childish freckles and individual strands of hair.
The movie has the same softer focus as the first movie. It's okay though. It lends itself to a more childlike look. Like we're reminiscing along with the movie. The line art from Jeff Kinney, provided here, looks great. Everything points to another solid transfer from Fox for 'Rodrick Rules'.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is just as simple as it was the first time around. There aren't any scenes that are going to stretch your home theater to its maximum capacity. Instead you'll get a serviceable audio mix for a little comedy such as this.
Dialogue is presented cleanly and clearly. Directionality works well when Greg's parents yell at him out of frame, placing their voices right where we'd think they would be in relationship to who's in frame. There's a little bit of LFE to go around when Rodrick throws his house party, and also when he and his friends are rocking out in the garage and on stage. There's some light ambience when crowds are clapping for the talent show performers or when a group of teenagers descend upon the Heffley household for a house party.
There's nothing overly special about this audio mix, but it does what it needs to do. There aren't any audio flubs or screeching. It's a technically proficient soundtrack and works for the kind of movie this is.
I wish more movies about childhood were like the 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' movies. They're well thought out, fun, and really capture what it was like being a kid. They may feel a little sitcomy at times, but that's okay because they're genuinely funny. They've got some promising little actors to play the roles of the kids, and a script that cleverly dissects childhood. With solid audio and video presentations this one comes recommended.