Who's In It: Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn, Peyton List, Robert Capron
The Basics: In the second installment of the Wimpy Kid adaptations, Greg Heffley (Gordon) has finally figured out middle school…now all he needs to do is figure out how to live with his volatile older brother Rodrick (Bostick). Their mother Susan (Harris) rolls up her sleeves and tries to come up with ways for them to bond, while their skeptical dad Frank (Zahn) stands idly by and watches his sons flounder at the game of "being friends." Their younger brother Manny (Connor and Owen Fielding) acts kind of like a ginger Harpo Marx, punctuating scenes with adorable one-word zingers instead of a horn. He also makes terrifying arts and crafts. All of this while trying to impress girls and outsmart their parents? The boys have their hands full this time around.
What's The Deal: This movie harkens back to the days of live-action Disney films (like Freaky Friday or The Parent Trap) that actually withstood the test of time because they were silly enough to entertain kids, but also intelligent enough to keep their attention. I really liked this film completely un-ironically--all of the characters are colorful and engaging, and the story is charming and age-appropriate. I would support a kid wanting to watch this ad nauseam over most of the candy-colored tripe out there.
Rodrick Really Does Rule: Devon Bostick is great as the scary older brother with a driver's license, drumsticks and crazy eyes. There is a kind of madness under his rubbery face, and I think if he was my older brother I would have an ulcer. He quickly moves from placid to fuming, and he makes causing trouble look good. He loves eyeliner, roundhouse kicks, and his parties have plenty of coke…a-cola. He is great up against Gordon, who is like a modern-day Fred Savage.
Ed McMahon Would Be Proud: The kids ham it up, but show some real comic potential. The movie is bizarre and hilarious in all the right ways, like when Fregley (Grayson Russell) busts out his cobra dance, or when Chirag (Karan Brar) does his best John Travolta. The crowning achievement goes to Greg's bestie Rowley (Capron) who, while in a quest to become an internet sensation, lip-syncs a Ke$ha song. It's wrong on every level, which makes it so right. If you can watch it without cracking a smile, you're a tougher person than I.
If You're An Adult Watching This: Keep an eye on Steve Zahn as the doubtful dad trying really hard to back up his overzealous movie-wife Rachael Harris. He plays it very low key, but still brings the same charm he does to every role. He says it all with a furrow of his brow, just like dads usually do.