The second movie based on Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid book series is nothing to skip school over, but at least it's not in 3-D. No sense in paying an extra ticket charge for something belonging on TV anyway.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is a benign preteen exaggeration in which grownups are useless unless they're being ridiculed, crushes don't respond, classmates store chewed gum behind their ears and someone's butt (clothed, of course) gets crammed against a nerd's face.
You know, the average kiddie-sitcom running 24/7 somewhere in reruns. The only thing missing from David Bowers' movie is a remote control to change channels when things get tiresome.
Zachary Gordon returns as Greg Heffley, a seventh-grader with typical middle school issues made to seem like insurmountable obstacles.
Greg's school issues are compounded by his tormenting older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), who fancies himself a drummer in a band called Loded Diper. Rodrick never gives Greg a break unless he's needed to cover up a party while the parents are away. He's especially cruel when it comes to Greg's infatuation with Holly Hills (Peyton List), a classmate way out of his league.
The most entertaining parts of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules occur when characters are literally drawn as the simple doodles they are. Bowers mimics Kinney's style of stick figures on lined notebook paper, depicting fantasies more amusingly than the movie's flesh-and-blood high jinks.
There's something to be said for a movie about children in which soda pop is the preferred beverage at a party and a conga line is the evening's highlight. That something is "good, clean fun," although you can drop the first and third words of that description when referring to Bowers' movie.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365.