This episode of the Wimpy Kid film series is based on a combination of wacky misadventures culled from both the third (The Last Straw) and fourth (Dog Days) books in the best-selling series created by Jeff Kinney. The movie was directed by David Bowers (Wimpy Kid 2) who reassembled his principal cast, including Zach Gordon in the title role as the beleaguered Greg Heffley, and Robert Capron as his rotund BFF, Rowley Jefferson.
The picture’s point of departure is opening day at the overcrowded public pool which is where we find Greg unhappy at the prospect of sharing the water all summer with smelly adults and infants who aren’t potty-trained. He’d prefer to be frequenting the facilities at the Plainview Heights Country Club, especially after he learns that Holly Hills (Peyton List), the cute classmate he has a big crush on, will be teaching tennis to children.
After all, Greg’s only vacation plans involve playing video games at home and hanging out with Holly. However, when he asked her for her phone number on the final day of school, she was distracted in the middle of writing it down and never got around to finishing it for him.
As luck would have it, Rowley’s family happens to be members of the same country club, so Greg can gain access to the place as his pal’s personal guest. Anything would be better than the boring activities his mother (Rachael Harris) and father (Steve Zahn) already have planned for him like fishing, starting a reading club, and attending Civil War reenactments.
Therefore, in order to see the girl of his dreams every day, Greg tells his folks that he’s found a summer job at Plainview Heights. Of course, in accordance with the “One Big Lie” comedy formula, it’s just a matter of time before the truth comes out.
However, the boys’ futile attempts at a cover-up sets in motion a series of silly slapstick scenes. Between a steady diet of sight gags and bodily function fare, Wimpy Kid is entertaining enough to engage youngsters. Adults might not find the film’s unfocused style of sophomoric storytelling all that compelling, but they will nonetheless laugh a lot and appreciate the squeaky clean brand of humor so rarely found in films anymore.
A comfy, feel good comedy movie for the whole family.
Excellent (***½). Rated PG for rude humor. Running time: 94 minutes. Distributor: 20th Century Fox.