An appealing, if glossy, adaptation of Jeff Kinney's hugely popular cartoon-illustrated novel, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" is an amusing romp through the awkward years of middle school. As told from the perspective of its 11-year-old narrator, it's a spry, fluffy comedy that, given Kinney's track record -- the five-book "Wimpy Kid" series has sold 28 million copies to date -- should have no trouble drawing young viewers.
Initiated as a series of online cartoons, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" made a big splash upon its 2007 publication as a "novel in cartoons," and its universal Everykid premise went on to spawn vigorous Internet fan activity. Eponymous hero Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon, faintly recalling the young Fred Savage) is like an anti-Harry Potter: He has no magic or any other discernible powers, and his best asset is a sardonic take on middle school: "Let me just say that I think (it's) the dumbest idea ever invented," he writes. "You got kids like me who haven't hit their growth spurt yet mixed in with these gorillas who need to shave twice a day."
Helmer Thor Freudenthal ("Hotel for Dogs") wastes no time establishing Greg's world: He's routinely hazed by his older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), humiliated by his little brother, Manny (played by Connor and Owen Fielding), and often overlooked altogether by his parents (Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn). His best friend is the doughy, decidedly uncool Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron).
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