Dear Dumb Diary

  • Review Date: September 6, 2013
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 84 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Books-inspired movie has great social messages for kids.
  • Review Date: September 6, 2013
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 84 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Positive social lessons remind viewers to judge people by their actions, not their appearances.

Positive messages

Jamie is insightful, expressive, and eager to inspire changes she believes will benefit herself and her friends, even if it does come at the expense of other peers. In so doing, though, she learns the value of inner beauty and the importance of seeing past people's appearances. She steals a confidential file from the school office and is the unwitting participant in a charity scam, but she makes amends on both counts. An incident with her diary raises questions about what's appropriate to write (or say) about friends and enemies, and she's briefly on the hot seat among her classmates when her private thoughts come to light. Potty humor includes a dog who farts a lot.

Positive role models

Jamie is surrounded by caring adults, from a vice principal who takes time to listen to her concerns to an aunt who uses her own experiences to help guide her through the small tragedies of middle school.

Violence & scariness

A few slapstick knocks and falls, as when a girl runs into doors and walls because her vision is blurred, but no injuries.

Sexy stuff

A tween's crush on her classmate is a recurring plot theme, but the content is appropriate for the middle-school characters. Girls discuss boys' attractiveness, in one case ranking them according to their physical appearances. A budding adult relationship is sweet and heartfelt and yields just one kiss and a conversation about kissing and holding hands.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

A Walmart (a sponsor of the show) shopping bag is prominent in one scene, as are products like TruMoo milk, an Apple computer, and Puffs tissues. The movie is based on a series of books by Jim Benton.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Dear Dumb Diary is a family-friendly movie from the Walden Family Theater initiative based on a popular tween book series by Jim Benton. The story centers on a tween who's struggling to stand out among her (as she believes) more beautiful classmates, which leads her into a service project that eventually changes how she views herself and her peers. Its message is clearly illustrated: Outer beauty can be deceiving, but inner beauty transcends any exterior. The main character makes some poor judgment calls that lead her into trouble, but she makes amends each time and learns good lessons from the experiences. The movie incorporates visual aspects of the books in a fun way, and musical sequences will be a hit with kids. For parents, though, it's the perfect way to start a conversation with your kids about social issues, self-image, and peer relationships.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Creative, imaginative Jamie (Emily Alyn Lind) is fed up with being average and withering in the shadows of the world's beautiful people, like her popular classmate Angeline (Sterling Griffith), who always manages to turn the head of Jamie's crush, Hudson (David Mazouz). Frustrated and at her wit's end, Jamie confides in her shrewd best friend, Isabella (Mary-Charles Jones), and in her diary, which holds her secret thoughts about Hudson and her plots against Angeline and the rest of the so-called perfect people. Determined to capture the spotlight –- and Hudson's affections –- for herself, Jamie enters the school's Jump-a-thon fundraiser and sets out to save the school's art program with the prize money and score a hit for ordinary folks like herself. To her surprise, though, her zeal for doing good has an unexpected effect on her outlook and lets her see Angeline in a new light.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

DEAR DUMB DIARY is product of Walden Family Theater, a joint endeavor between the Hallmark Channel and sponsors Walmart and Procter & Gamble that's intended to provide families with quality entertainment for viewers of all ages. Not an easy task, to be sure, but they hit the nail on the head with this delightful movie about issues that will resonate with kids and provide families with a segue into meaningful conversations about issues like self-esteem, dating, social status, and peer pressure. Jamie's struggles with her self-image will sound familiar to a lot of viewers –- kids and parents alike -– and the process by which she learns to cope with her insecurities has value across the board.

What makes this story so appealing –- besides the creative incorporation of the books' illustrations and the breakout music video sequences -– is that Jamie is no saint. She breaks some rules, hangs with a questionably influential BFF who gets her involved in sketchy schemes, and turns her own unhappiness into vengeance against an unwitting classmate. In other words, she's relatable. But each incident forces her to take a good hard look at her actions, and eventually she comes to appreciate who she is, which helps her relate better to others.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the characters' experiences compare to kids' own. Kids: Have you ever felt "invisible," like Jamie does? Are you ever jealous of other kids for what they have or who they are? Does that influence how you relate to them?

  • Kids: What unique qualities are you most proud of in yourself? What opportunities exist for you to showcase your talents? How do your friendships reflect your personal values?

  • Talk with your kids about issues like peer pressure and status. How is popularity determined? What criteria is typically used? How does the desire for popularity influence how you dress and act? Does this ever conflict with your true inner nature? Why are we drawn to want popularity?

  • If your kids have read the books, talk about how the movie compares. Were the characters like what you imagined? Did anything disappoint you in the movie version? Do you like to read? What types of books are your favorites?

Movie details

DVD release date:November 15, 2013
Cast:Emily Alyn Lind, Mary-Charles Jones, Sterling Griffith
Director:Kristin Hanggi
Studio:Arc Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Book characters, Friendship, Great girl role models, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:84 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some mild rude humor

This review of Dear Dumb Diary was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written bySha_nay_nay_ October 27, 2013
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Less than one star..... That's how bad it was

This is like the worst movie ever like the book were so good and then they had to make some stupid musical out of it. I threw up three times after watching it
Teen, 13 years old Written bySamuel M. September 14, 2013
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Dear Dumb Diary: An unbearably faithful adaptation that kids will eat up

There is a plethora of children's books within the Diary of a Wimpy Kid revolution, one of them being Dear Dumb Diary. This series actually debuted a couple years before Kinney's, so it has a little bit of an upper hand. The series even got a movie--however, said movie turned out to be a TV movie that released on DVD exclusively at Walmart. Enough about that, let's talk about the movie. It stars Jamie Kelly, a small girl with a big imagination. She vents most of her thoughts into her diary as well as cheesy musical sequences, and she is accompanied by her friend Isabella. Her plan is to save the art program by conquering a jump roping fundraiser. You can practically see the derivative influences within the plot and characterization. Implausible events to this movie is like oil to a car. But enough snark--kids will probably be too entertained with the musical segments and such as they watch the book come to life. It's dumbed-down entertainment for older viewers, but a marvelous movie for younger audiences.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Kid, 10 years old September 13, 2013
AGE
4
QUALITY
 

Grade: A+ For my entertainment!

BEST. MOVIE. EVER. I love the More than just a number to me song! Educational Value: I don't think this was made for educating people. Positive Messages: I don't know, but after this review I'm going to watch it again to see. Then I'll edit. Positive role models: Jamie and Angeline. Jamie is a very cool kid who loves her diary ( even she calls it a dear DUMB diary ). Angeline sticks up for Jamie in one part of the scene where everyone is seeing her diary. Violence: Some bumps from Isabella, but it's from contacts. At the beginning, it looks like Isabella is going to attack Angeline ( due to Angeline stealing her " signature lip gloss flavor " ) In the song Perfect People, models and famous people are tied up and are thrown into a bus. Sexy Stuff: There is a character that has a HUGE crush on Hudson ( obviously you can tell JAMIE is the one ). In More Than A Number To Me, Hudson DOES kiss her on the cheek, but not the lips. Imaginable crazy romantic moments ( and by crazy I mean Hudson comparing to two butterflies with their PET UNICORN ). Language: If names count, WHERE DO I BEGIN? First of all, the title is Dear DUMB Diary, but there is name calling people names in songs ( Idiots and fools and goons and half-wits, Freaks of Nature, Freaking Weak ). Trolls is used in the beginning in the movie ( If you are my parents, then YES, I know I'm not allowed to call people idiots and fools and trolls ). Consumerism: I saw her using Puffs Tissues when she was sad when her diary was stolen. Saw an apple laptop. Drugs: Not applicable.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism

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