out of Five
Running time: 99
Competent threequel that will appeal to fans of both the previous films and of Jeff Kinney's books, but it once again sidelines its best character, fails to deliver on its emotional moments and contains very few actual laughs.
What's it all about?
Directed by David Bowers, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is the third instalment of the popular franchise based on the illustrated comic novellas by Jeff Kinney. Zachary Gordon returns as titular preteen wimpy kid Greg Heffley, who's looking forward to a summer of playing video games until his father (Steve Zahn) puts his foot down and insists on some father-son bonding time.
However, Greg has other plans and pretends that he has a job at the local country club, so as to spend more time with both would-be girlfriend Holly (Peyton List), who also works there, and chubby best friend Rowley (Robert Capron), whose family are members. Meanwhile, the family also get a dog (taking the title literally) and Greg's older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) blackmails Greg into sneaking him into the country club after he works out what Greg is up to.
As with the two previous outings, the strength of the Wimpy Kid films lies in its excellent supporting cast, with Zahn, Bostick and Capron all delivering great comic performances, even if Capron and Bostick are under used here compared to the earlier movies. The film's chief source of amusement is the series of episodic mishaps the script throws Greg's way and Bowers handles these decently enough in and of themselves, even if no real attempt is made at a cohesive plot (the dog is practically irrelevant, for example, despite the title).
The film's main problem is that it just isn't funny enough, once again settling for occasionally amusing rather than striving for actual laugh-out-loud moments. Similarly, Greg isn't a particularly sympathetic character (it might help if he was actually wimpier), since he never seems all that bothered by (or punished for) the trouble he causes and the film can't quite pull off its supposedly emotional moments as a result.
On top of that, Dog Days is additionally frustrating because so many of Greg's problems have easy solutions and the script doesn't provide adequate reasons why he can't pursue them. One such sequence involves his trunks coming off during a dive; it would be one thing if they were ripped but there's no reason why he can't just ask someone to hand them to him.
Like the first two films, Dog Days is entirely watchable, but it's also lazily written and never quite as clever, as funny or as emotionally engaging as it ought to be.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (PG)