I: Independence (Coming of Middle-School Age)
We were on the wimpy kid bandwagon early on with books, but it wasn’t until recently that we discovered the one of the movies of the same name. We’ve got three of the books: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (the original; movie 1), The Last Straw and Rodrick Rules (movie 2). There’s also Dog Days and the Ugly Truth with Cabin Fever coming out in 102 days, 3 hours, 48 minutes and 04 seconds.
We got into the first Wimpy Kid in January. Greg Heffley, the wimpy kid himself, is a pretty average middle-schooler. Kinney, the mastermind behind the Wimpy Kid series, sets Greg up with a younger and older brother so there’s a lot of good content and commentary on sibling rivalry and its trials. My kids at 6 and 8 might be a little young for some of the situations the kid experiences, but when they get there, they might find comfort in knowing that awkwardness and embarrassment are just part of growing up. Maybe they’ll re-read the wimpy series with new perspective.
Right now, they’re reading. And this is good. While my soon-to-be third grader, Ava, is sleuthing with Nancy Drew and alternately siding with Ivy and Bean, my 6-yr-old son is more hard-pressed to sit still and read. He doesn’t like to trust even the sight words yet, relying on the sound out each letter method. He wants to get it right. So serious. That’s why these books have been good for him – I hear him laughing. Likely pleased with himself too. I’m hoping Greg’s antics – like faking an injury for attention – don’t give him ideas. Then there’s some bad language used that I really don’t want to hear coming out of my kids’ mouths.
So if I don’t like to see bad language in writing, why might I allow it on screen? Well, they wore me down (it’s been out since late March). I was still a bit reluctant when we rented the movie – Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. Turns out it was good enough to watch three times (it was a miserably hot weekend anyway). The Wimpy Kid is a fine young actor, but Rodrick really stole the show for me as the feared, older, tormenting teenager. He was relentless in pursuit of maxing out laziness and perfecting how to get out of his homework. Obviously, as the drummer in Loded Diper, he had no time for school.
My kids seem to eat this stuff up – Wow, Rodrick and Jeff had a party while the parents were away? What were Rodrick’s top ten ways to be lazy? Rewind. In between each slacker idea on the list, Rodrick connects with the camera – think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – twirls his drumstick and gives a convincing sell.
Greg follows Rodrick as he shows him the ropes, ganging up on unsuspecting people leaving a convenient store who discover a gel mold of reusable vomit. They also eat an insane amount of junk food and mess up so badly on the most simple tasks given to them by their parents, that the exasperated parents just do it themselves.
Post movie the kids mimic Rodrick’s list delivery, incorporating some of their new taekwondo moves. Ava says she thinks Rodrick is s-weet. Uh-oh. But I agree – he’s charming. Oh, also there’s a cool mom too – she lays on the Julia Louis-Dreyfus dance moves pretty thick (not cool: Mom Bucks). And, finally, the boys who have been at odds most of the movie become best buds. The kids and I have some conversation about why most siblings just are this way – – between states of blissful camaraderie, or fighting, door-slamming annoyance. I cue them in: It’s only the beginning of their story.