(NEW YORK) — For the third year in a row, we get another Diary of a Wimpy Kid film, based on the popular series of young adult books. This time, it’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, a reference less about an actual dog and more about the dog days of summer (don’t let that movie poster fool you).
This time, our wimpy-kid hero, Greg Heffley, played by Zachary Gordon, is on summer vacation with two goals in mind: Play video games and try to hang out with his current crush, Holly Hills. Of course, there are obstacles. Holly wasn’t able to finish giving Greg her phone number and Greg’s Dad, again played by Steve Zahn, doesn’t want his son sitting around the house all day playing video games when, you know, it’s summer outside.
Greg’s fortunes quickly change when his BFF, Rowley, invites him to hang out at his parents’ country club. For Greg, it’s a life-altering experience. There’s plenty of room to swim in the pool, for one thing, as opposed to the public pool. Plus you can order smoothies and, as luck would have it, Holly Hills works there, teaching tennis to little kids. All this adds up to plenty of opportunities for Greg to lie to his parents, lie to Rowley, lie to Rowley’s parents, disappoint his father, disappoint Rowley, disappoint Rowley’s parents and be antagonized by his goofy and somewhat evil older brother, Roderick. This has been, more or less, the same formula for all three films.
Yes, they do also get a dog, which Greg’s little brother names Sweetie. One of the best jokes of the entire movie is when Roderick brings home a dog bowl with Sweetie’s name on it, except it’s spelled S-w-e-a-t-y. This, by the way, also highlights one of this movie’s major weaknesses — namely, the dog is supposed to be there to teach Greg about responsibility. However, that idea is never fully realized, which makes the addition of a dog to the Heffley household feel completely gratuitous.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies are consistent — as in consistently mediocre. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days does nothing to break that pattern. Even so, like the previous films it’s light-hearted, sweet and kind of fun.
Two-and-a-half out of five stars.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Brian Stelter, CNN