Dear Dumb Diary

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Dear Dumb Diary Movie Poster Image
Books-inspired movie has great social messages for kids.
  • PG
  • 2013
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 28 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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. Characters learn and demonstrate communication and compassion.

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.


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

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydustinh January 3, 2015

Give it a chance, it gets better

It starts slow, doesn't have much of a plot, and the main character is really annoying at times. BUT after almost pulling the plug, I'm glad we stuck... Continue reading
Parent Written byLisaLisa1969 December 24, 2014

awful and message is all wrong

Maybe it gets better, but I couldn't get past the first 20 min. Watched it with my 12 year old and 9 year old who begged me to shut it off. I was appalled... Continue reading
Kid, 7 years old January 24, 2020

I wasted half my time on a playdate watching the dumb Movie

I hate this movie more than hearing yummy or baby by justin bieber
Kid, 9 years old March 2, 2014

Great movie!

I love this movie because it's a fun movie.

What's the story?

In DEAR DUMB DIARY, 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?

This delightful movie about issues that will resonate with kids provides families with a segue into meaningful conversations about issues like self-esteem, dating, social status, and peer pressure. 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. 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the characters' experiences compare to kids' own. Kids: Have you ever felt "invisible," like Jamie does in Dear Dumb Diary? 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?

  • How do the characters in Dear Dumb Diary demonstrate communication and compassion? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love book/school movies

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate