‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules’ Review: Oh, Brother

The beloved children’s book series receives another film installment.

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By Calum Marsh

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The media franchise “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” has a long and storied history and has taken many, many forms. It started in 2004 as a kind of serialized web comic for kids on the educational website Funbrain. Its popularity led to a book deal for the author and illustrator Jeff Kinney, who turned the comics into a best-selling children’s book that combined text with crudely drawn cartoons. The book begot more than a dozen sequels; three spinoffs; a Children’s Theater Company musical; and six feature film adaptations, including two different versions based on the original book — one in live action, from 2010, and one animated, from 2021. A sequel to the animated one, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules,” streaming on Disney+, is based on the second book. It’s not to be confused with the live-action movie of the same name, from 2011. Got it?

If all that makes this latest “Rodrick Rules” sound a bit redundant, the movie itself does little to suggest otherwise. Of course, none of the earlier “Wimpy Kid” movies were particularly great, but this animated retread, in which the gawky adolescent dweeb Greg (voiced by Brady Noon) must contend with the petulant foibles of his big brother, Rodrick (voiced by Hunter Dillon), feels distinctly insubstantial.

It’s the sort of bland, innocuous trifle that will swiftly recede into the oblivion of a streaming service menu — a comedy without laughs and a family movie without heart, lacking any of the wit or charm of Kinney’s original stories. The director, Luke Cormican, keeps the action in a mild register that feels blandly televisual, hitting episodic beats that have no memorable emphasis. I imagine they’ll keep making these — why stop now? If so, let’s hope they reread the books to remember what made them endearing.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 14 minutes. Watch on Disney+.

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