Disney’s 2021 animated film The Diary of a Wimpy Kid was another family broadcast that harmed the studio. The film is a kind of restart, ignoring the previous three films in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” franchise and also by retelling the story in the first book of Jeff Keaney’s hit series.
While the animation is visually appealing and distinctive and balances the appearance of the source material with the conventions of 3D animated film, the story offers little interest even to a young audience. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is quite of a mediocre children’s film that – 11 years after the first film and 14 years after the original hit book – feels at best taken down and, at worst, unnecessary.
Like the original book, The 2021 Diary of a Wimpy Kid follows Greg Hefley (Brady Noun):
A young man is about to graduate from high school. Greg is ambitious but thin and still doesn’t know where he fits in in his new surroundings. Most of the films follow his attempts to integrate into the school population and get into trouble in the process.
Luckily, Greg didn’t do it alone: his best friend Rowley Jefferson (Ethan William Childress) was on his way, offering unwavering support and kind words. The two face violent teenagers, apathetic classmates, and the judgmental teachers. However, the real trouble starts to begin when the pressures of high school begin to weigh on their friendship.
While Diary of a Wimpy Kid actually tries to stay true to Jeff Keaney’s book, creating many of the same plot points that are from the parts of the original story, the execution fails.
The story is messy, and there isn’t any basic structure to give the story direction. In the first book, the premise is straightforward: Greg keeps a diary for his freshman year of high school. This book begins with the beginning of the school year and ends with the end of the school year.
However, in the 2021 Disney films, there is no framework for contextualizing the story. The film starts right before the school year, but there is no clear schedule after that.
As a result, the plot consists of barely coherent episodes that never culminate in a fully realized story. There’s a rainbow about the ultimate friendship between Greg and Rowley, but that alone doesn’t make for a compelling story.
The free anecdotal structure of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid can work:
But only if the characters or plot are convincing enough to convey the film. The main problem with the 2021 animated film is that it’s not fun to watch. Greg’s aggressiveness is unacceptable: not only is he a bad friend and a bit of a rogue, but he also lacks charisma and charm.
Being a naughty or rebellious child doesn’t mean the character can’t be compassionate; the archetypal “favorite delusion” is based on the idea that a child breaks the rules.
However, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid failed to make the leading role enjoyable; some in the audience might find him (accidentally) connected, but his selfishness and cowardice. Also, not to mention his attitude towards others – are unlikely to win over the majority of the audience.
For a children’s film, there’s also shocking laughter everywhere, as well as more than a few disturbing scenes. No joke – at least not. The abuse in Diary of a Wimpy Kid is reckless and uncomfortable.
The interpretation of the Halloween book encounters with violent teens is downright frustrating, so much so that younger viewers can freak out as their parents squirm in their chairs (teens try to run a 12-year-old with a small child on the head – nothing on it need to complain).
Poor Rowley had been abused repeatedly, and the final verdict could not compensate for what the boy went through. Perhaps most impressive is the slander of “weird” boy Fregley, who wants to be friends with Greg. Weak children’s diaries do not condemn abuse. Instead, she taught children that feeling accepted was more important than being friendly and that those who were different, like Fregley, deserved to be ridiculed.
Taling about all the existing fans of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise:
It will give you a little pleasure to see a natural adaptation. Jeff Keaney wrote the script – though that might explain why he adapted the book’s appeal so poorly.
Keaney’s only previous credits were related to franchises, such as the highly acclaimed Wimpy Kid Diary: The Long Haul which he did not write the scripts for the more successful first three films.
Perhaps the 2021 anniversary animation could serve as a warning to the industry: being a good writer doesn’t make a good screenwriter, and sometimes the best way to stay true to the spirit of a book is to have knowledgeable and experienced professionals to adapt and write.