Not a film that you would normally expect to see on this blog, but I’m currently trapped up in far north Queensland, and escaping the rain for a couple of hours (there’s a reason they call this place a rainforest) seemed like a fun idea, and the cinema in nearby Malanda claimed to be Australia’s longest-running cinema. Who could resist a claim like that?

So I found myself in a delightfully decrepit old wooden shed, complete with low-slung chairs that are more like ancient deckchairs than anything else (they really should introduce a couple of rows of them at Event Cinemas in George Street…) watching a slightly out-of-focus and muffled print of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

I hadn’t seen any trailers for this film (internet’s not so great up here) and had briefly noticed the books in the young adults section of bookstores, with their distinctive cartoony font and pictures. But I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

What I got was outrageously funny. If you can imagine JD from Scrubs at age 12, about to join middle school, then you’ll get the main character, Greg Heffner. Greg’s chief concern as he joins his new schools is being perceived as cool. And he’s a bit worried, because his best friend, Rowley, is the school fat kid – complete with bad haircut (did I mention his hair is red?), terrible clothes and he uses the word “play” – as in, “Hey Greg, do you want to come over and play with me?” – a terrible no-no at school.

While it is squarely aimed at the 12-year-old audience, the comic timing of the cast and the way the jokes are played works so well, that I’m pretty sure our party of adults were laughing a lot louder and more often than the kids in the cinema. Whether it was potty monsters, the game of “gladiators”, Greg’s older brother, the cheese touch, or any scene with Fregley, the film rarely let up on the amusement.

And in the end – the themes are bigger than middle school. Don’t we all find ourselves doing and saying stupid things to make other people think we’re better than we actually are?

For parents out there, this has a PG rating and there’s a fair bit of adolescent themes and humour in it, so I wouldn’t necessarily take kids under 10. But if you’ve got a kid in this age group, it’d be a great way to get a discussion going about peer pressure and fitting in, and what it really means to be comfortable in your own skin.

4 out of 5.


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