A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is the third adaptation in the series of movies based on Jeff Kinney's phenomenally popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Like its two predecessors, it's full of the kind of physical and scatological comedy that tweens love. Language includes standard insults like "loser" and "jerk," and the violence is of the humorous ball-in-the-groin variety, with one potential jump scene when an adult scares kids during a campout. Parents wary of bathroom humor should know there are many jokes about pee, farts, boogers, dog spit, etc. There's a brief glimpse at a boy sitting on the toilet and an extended men's locker room sequence in which a lead character tries to avoid looking at all the fat, hairy, and shirtless men toweling off or taking showers. Overall, the movie (like the book) has a sweet message about father-son bonding and being honest.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS, the third installment in the Wimpy Kid series, focuses on protagonist Greg Heffley's (Zachary Gordon) summer after seventh grade. All Greg wants to do is sit around playing video games, hanging out with his best friend, Rowley (Robert Capron), and trying to get together with his crush, Holly (Peyton List). But Mr. Heffley (Steve Zahn) wants Greg to be more like the neighbor's three outdoorsy sons and decides to spend some quality time with Greg. When the father and son's interests prove incompatible, Greg avoids his father's overtures by pretending to have a job at the country club where Rowley and Holly are members. Eventually Greg's lies catch up with him, and he has to deal with disappointing both his friend and his father.
Is it any good?
Director David Bowers is back again to helm another adaptation of Jeff Kinney's ubiquitous book series. Dog Days continues to highlight the same silly antics that get Greg in trouble every time he tries to outsmart his family and friends, and Rowley remains the most unconditionally faithful sidekick ever. Gordon is adorably dorky as the head Wimpy Kid, and, as in the first two films, Capron's lovable Rowley steals several scenes with his hilarious gestures and facial expressions. Plus, for once, here's a kid who absolutely loves to be with his parents -- no matter how overprotective and sentimental they are toward him.
With slightly less emphasis on the sillier secondary characters like Fregley, Chirag, and Patty, Dog Days instead follows Greg's first real attempt at middle-school romance. Despite how pretty she is, Holly is nothing like her mean-girl older sister Heather; she's sweet and accepting and just the kind of girl who seems out of Greg's league, but is actually interested right back. If only there were more movies where the dorky girl gets the handsome and cool guy! As always, there's a predictable amount of bathroom humor, but as long as you don't mind the bodily fluid jokes, this tween comedy is certain to entertain the 12-and-under set ... and their parents.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the various parent-child relationships are portrayed in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Which parents are more believable -- the Heffleys or the Jeffersons? How does the relationship between Greg and his dad change?
Why are movies aimed at tween boys filled with so much potty humor? Are the fart and booger jokes necessary? Do girls like this kind of humor, too?
Rowley is a fiercely loyal friend to Greg, but is Greg always a good friend to Rowley? What does Greg do to redeem himself to Rowley?
Fans of the books: How does the movie compare to the Dog Days novel? Which characters were different or new? Did you like the changes?
- In theaters: August 3, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: December 18, 2012
- Cast: Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn, Zachary Gordon
- Director: David Bowers
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Middle School
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor
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