Diary of a Wimpy Kid



Adorable comedy about middle-school anxieties...and farts.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: March 8, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The biggest message of the story is what Greg's mother tells him: "It's our choices that make us who we are," meaning that even when we've messed up or failed, we still have an opportunity to choose to ask for forgiveness or to change. Rowley and Greg's friendship shows how important it is for friendships to be unconditional, regardless of how "popular" the other person seems to be, and how it's not OK to lie to your friend and let him get punished for something you did.

Positive role models

Rowley isn't a perfect role model, but he's an example of someone who is just himself and doesn't try so hard to be popular, like Greg does (unsuccessfully). Same goes for Angie, who is comfortable being different and doesn't worry about how often she's in the yearbook. Rowley's also a loyal and sweet friend until Greg betrays him and hurts his feelings. Greg shows kids that it's important to own up to your mistakes and to value your friends.


A trio of teens bullies and menaces Greg and Rowley, obviously trying to hurt them. After evading them on several occasions, the bullies catch up to them and force Rowley to do something really gross. Rodrick threatens to kill Greg. A girl taunts and wrestles Greg and later beats him up in front of the whole school.


Rodrick has a (fictional) magazine called "Moto Mamas" which seems to be a skin mag of scantily clad women on motorcycles -- only the cover is shown. One middle-school boy is shown walking hand in hand with girls. Greg says he heard girls say a boy has a "cute butt." A few quick glimpses of kids sitting on toilets or peeing (no nudity, obviously).


Frequently said insults include "dumb," "moron," "stupid," "clueless," "jerk," "tool," "idiot," "freakjob," and of course, "wimp." A couple uses of "crap" and "God" as an exclamation. The word "freakin'" is also said a few times. Also several scatalogical references to snot, boogers, and farting.


Nintendo's Wii console is mentioned and shown, as well as the video game Wii Play.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this adaptation of Jeff Kinney's best-selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid books is full of tween-friendly jokes and mischief. There are no full-blown swear words, but the dialogue includes a lot of insults like "moron," "idiot," "tool," "stupid" and the like, as well as the standard substitute for stronger words, "freakin'." Parents sensitive to scatological humor, beware! There are several jokes about boogers and farts, a few shots featuring kids on toilets (the middle-school boysroom has no doors on its stalls), and in one scene, the protagonist accidentally pees on his brother. While there's no frightening violence, there is a running theme about three older bullies who menace the main characters, and there's a girl who beats up a boy in front of the entire school. A rebellious seeming teen brother wears eyeliner, is in a garage band, and is caught with a naughty magazine (the cover only shows a woman in a bikini).

What's the story?

Based on the outrageously popular books by Jeff Kinney, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID follows sixth grader Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) as he attempts to navigate the middle-school social order with his chubby, sweet best friend Rowley (Robert Capron). After looking at his rocker older brother's old yearbook, Greg decides the key to climbing the popularity ladder is to join various after-school clubs and associations and somehow settles on safety patrol with Rowley. Despite warnings from Angie (Chloe Grace Moretz), a precociously mature 7th grader, Greg continues to plot and scheme to make himself more well-liked, but in the process starts pushing Rowley to change the way he dresses, talks, and acts to fit in better. Ultimately, Greg endangers his one true friendship for selfish reasons, while Rowley surprisingly grows more popular by just being himself.

Is it any good?


If you can stomach boy-world jokes about bodily functions and middle-school anxiety, this adaptation is deliciously age appropriate and wittily executed. Unlike many other movies featuring child actors, none of this ensemble (with the possible exception of Moretz) look plucked from the world of juvenile modeling. They do look like the sort of wimpy, uncool kids the more physically developed, socially adept middle-schoolers have always and will always push to the side. Gordon is a riot as the determined but clueless Greg, but as his BFF Rowley, Capron is definitely the scene stealer of the movie, imbuing his chunky, sunny character with an adorable sense of self. The Heffley parents, played by veteran comedic actors Steve Zahn and Rachael Harris are forgettable, as this is one of those rare movies where adults are rather unnecessary.

The running gag in the movie is utterly brilliant in its simplicity. There's a moldy, way-past-rotten slice of cheese that nobody, even the school janitor, bothered to throw away. As time passed, any student who even accidentally touched the cheese was branded with the "cheese touch," a malady infinitely worse than the cooties. There are various close-ups of the cheese as it ages throughout the school year, and it's obvious something truly awful is going to happen with the cheese. Of course, the "cheese touch" is just a stand-in for all of the myriad artificial reasons young adolescents alienate each other during those horrifying years we call middle school.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Greg's hilarious single-minded quest to be deemed "popular" in middle school. How does Greg's attitude differ from Rowley's and Angie's? How accurate a reflection of middle-school life is this story? Kids: Have you ever been bullied, either in person or online?

  • What does Greg's mom mean when she says: "It's our choices that make us who we are"? How did Greg follow her advice?

  • Was Rowley justified in ending his friendship with Greg? Kids: what would you have done?

  • Fans of the books: How does the movie compare? Which characters were different or new? Did you like the changes?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 19, 2010
DVD release date:August 2, 2010
Cast:Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn, Zachary Gordon
Director:Thor Freudenthal
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Book characters, Friendship
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some rude humor and language

This review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid 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.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written byblissful June 14, 2010

Terrible message, no resolution of criminal activity. BAD.

This movie was very disappointing. The so-called "wimpy" kid is obsessed with his image, and betrays his friend so he can look cool. He spends the whole movie whining about how unfair life is to him. He takes a group of kindergarteners, abandons them in a dangerous pit in the rain, and then lets his friend take the fall. He does eventually lose his "safety monitor" job at school, but it's barely a slap on the wrist, and the movie does a terrible job of explaining just how horrible his behavior was. He should be expelled or possibly even face criminal charges. We had to have a LONG discussion with our boys about how unrealistic this movie was, how horrible the kid was, etc. The movie ends with the kid essentially just asking his friend to take him back, and the friend does so with barely an apology. The message is that it's okay to act like a complete selfish jerk and to put the lives of young children in danger and act completely irresponsible, and everything will be okay with almost no apology. This was not Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It was Diary of a Self-Centered, Disrespectful, Rude and Obnoxious Kid who considers himself to be put-upon and never really learns his lesson. TERRIBLE message. We really had to do some damage control on this one because we heard our 8 year old boy saying things about this kid being "cool" and had to set him straight.
Parent of a 7 and 10 year old Written byColumbiaMDMom March 21, 2010

Had low expectations – was disappointed anyway

I begrudge the time and money I spent taking my two sons, ages 10 and 7, to see this film. Most of the charm of the book series comes from seeing the sketches from Greg, the “wimpy” kid. The film didn’t place a big emphasis on these sketches. Instead we view scenes mainly from a fly on the wall perspective at the middle school and in Greg’s home. Some scenes were very scary for my 7-year old, and unpleasant for my older son and for me: Greg’s older brother, Rodney, threatening “I am literally going to kill you”, and telling Greg his planned trick-or-treating route passes the site of where children had been put into an oven. Another dispiriting scene has Greg and his best friend Rowley relegated to eating their lunch on the cafeteria floor when no one is willing to let them sit at their table. The plot of the film is purportedly Greg’s strategies to become “someone” in middle school society. In his single-minded quest, he distances himself from chubby Rowley whenever he thinks it serves him. And to me, this is the saddest part. When Greg is observed coming up short on his job as a safety patrol, Rowley is reported instead since Greg was wearing Rowley’s jacket at the time. Alerted to the situation, Greg lets his Mom know only that he has a decision to make that could hurt someone. She advises him that our decisions make us who we are. In spite of this advice, Greg chooses to let Rowley be the fall guy. Later when Greg matter-of-factly tells Rowley that he it was he who actually fell short on his duty, it’s Rowley who has the truest moment of the film as he tells Greg that he has not been a friend. In a way this film really belongs to Rowley. Rowley moves up in middle school society by being optimistic and by being himself. He gains positive attention when he wins the competition to be the replacement cartoonist for the school newspaper. He is reinstated with a promotion to the school safety squad when the safety patrol director discovers the truth about the patrol incident with Greg. And he makes a splash when he dances with his Mom at the Mother Son Dance. Rowley is someone we can all feel good about – a cheerful underdog who wins out in the end. A wimpy kid might be funny. In the movie, Greg comes across as a coward, and that really isn’t funny.
Teen, 13 years old Written bygirl4natwolff February 13, 2011

Only if you think butts are funny. Don't go see it if you're a fan of the books.

Ummm......it was okay. I expected it to be really good, but.....there were some major flaws. First, some scenes were DISGUSTING. Wow, really? You really need to show a brownish booger that stretches to be funny? The only people who are going to like this are stupid nine-year-old boys. I love the books, and this was a MAJOR disappointment.
What other families should know
Too much swearing


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Special Needs Guide