“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” stars Jason Drucker, Owen Asztalos, Charlie Wright, Alicia Silverstone, and Tom Everett Scott. Released on May 19, 2017, the film has Greg Heffley and his family going on a road trip for their grandmother’s birthday. However, he plans on attending a video game convention.
The film is directed by David Bowers, who also directed Flushed Away and Astro Boy. It is based on the 2014 children’s novel of the same name by Jeff Kinney, as well as the fourth installment in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid film series. While the Wimpy Kid films aren’t exactly critical masterpieces, I would consider them to be enjoyable pieces that humorously represent the harsh challenges that every kid has to face, and no one faces them better than Greg Heffley. He may be a wimp, but you got to admit, he handles them like a champ. Now, in this latest sequel to the wimpy franchise, he’ll take on the biggest challenge of his life: surviving the “Great Heffley Road Trip”. Bum-bum-buuuuummmmm. Not only is this the third Wimpy Kid film to be directed by Bowers (after Rodrick Rules and Dog Days), but it is also the first film in the franchise to feature a brand new cast. While I was OK with the new cast, the rest of the people felt like it was OK to spew all kinds of hate on them without even giving them a chance. What’s even worse is that its critical reviews are very poor compared to its predecessors. So…what the heck’s the big deal?
For those who are unfamiliar with the Wimpy Kid series, it chronicles the misadventures of a young boy named Greg Heffley through his notes and cartoon drawings. He usually comes up with plans to get himself famous, which can lead to disastrous results. You know, kind of like Ed, Edd n Eddy. This sequel follows most of the events of the ninth Wimpy Kid book, The Long Haul, such as the road trip and the little piglet. If you’re familiar with the Wimpy Kid books and/or movies, then you’ll know exactly what you’re going to expect from this film. If not, then it’s highly possible that you’ll find it to be a formulaic and predictable road trip movie. The new cast was fine in their respective roles and the amount of hate towards them are nothing but a waste of everyone’s time. I thought Jason Drucker did a pretty nice job playing Greg. His performance didn’t quite match Zachary Gordon’s portrayal as the main character, but he came pretty close. If there’s one actor that I found disappointing, it was Charlie Wright as Greg’s older brother, Rodrick. He was supposed to be a cool, yet dimwitted, brother, but I think he overdid the “dimwitted” part a bit too much. This film has a nice message that kids can relate to. However, the amount of humor that was displayed in the film unexpectedly overshadowed the story’s charm unlike the last three installments, which happened to have a good blend of humor and charm. Whether it’s considered a bad thing or not can depend on your level of tolerance towards those types of films because I laughed a few times throughout the entire film. The rest of the jokes were either unmemorable or just too silly for the adults. After a while, it can get a bit repetitive and tiresome, even though the film is about 90 minutes long.
Overall, with its tiresome humor, weak storytelling, and its predictable road trip movie formula, I would consider “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” to be a very tough sell not just for those who are unfamiliar with the source material, but also for those who enjoyed both the books and the film’s predecessors. While I did manage to find a couple of tolerable moments, such as the new cast, they’re not enough to prevent it from winding up like the Heffleys’ road trip. A pretty big mess. If your kids like the Wimpy Kid films, they might enjoy this one as well. If you’re completely done with the film series, this one won’t be able to change your mind. For all those people who are still fed up with the new cast, get over it.