The follies and foibles of adolescent life continue unabated in David Bowers’ Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days¸ the third in the series of films based on Jeff Kinney’s best selling children’s book series. While a slight improvement on the series’ sophomore effort Rodrick Rules, Dog Days offers more of the same mix of sweet and sour childhood experiences with an abundance of slapstick. Safe for all family members, this third entry in the franchise may be the last at least with these cast members. The kids are growing up fast.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by David Bowers
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 94 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French, others
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: December 18, 2012
Review Date: December 18, 2012
Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) has successfully finished seventh grade and now looks forward to a summer of playing video games and seeing if he can make a connection with his first crush Holly Hills (Peyton List). But Greg’s dad (Steve Zahn) is not about to let his son waste the summer staying indoors, so he insists on outdoor activities including the two of them joining the Wilderness Explorers. To keep his dad off his back, Greg pretends to have gotten a job at an exclusive country club where his buddy Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron) is a member, but he’s really just wiling away the summer there since Holly is also a member and there every day. He doesn’t think far enough ahead to realize there’s going to be a day of reckoning for him.
Based on the books by Jeff Kinney, the screenplay by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky takes parts of the third and fourth books in the series for the plot of this film. While individual episodes in Greg’s pitiful and precarious saga can be funny and fun (a battle for a pot roast with the family dog is memorable), the steady string of fiascos that poor Greg must endure (and others unlucky enough to be in his path) wear out their welcome before the film hits the hour mark (with thirty minutes left to go). And while the film undoubtedly exaggerates events making everyone into cartoon characters (and cleverly placed animated bits reminiscent of Kinney’s book illustrations dot the film more frequently than in the second movie in the series), it’s a bit tiresome that no one in the film has a grain of common sense (including the adults) who go blithely through their paces without ever suspecting the calamities about to befall them. Comedy of destruction and humiliation is great in measured doses but is applied with a trowel here. More generally agreeable are some moments of sunny glee: a wonderfully directed montage of Rowley and Greg enjoying an amusement park or getting the tar beaten out of them on the tennis court by Holly and evil class nemesis Patty Farrell (Laine MacNeil) but loving the attention from the sweet, understanding Holly.
If there is a next film in the series, there may need to be recasting or a jump ahead in time since Zachary Gordon is just barely believable now as a middle schooler. He’s game for all the pitfalls he must face, but he’s simply aging out of the series. Robert Capron continues with the sweet innocence and perfect obedience of pal Rowley Jefferson. As the dad trying to be more proactive with his son, Steve Zahn has been given much more to do in this film than in the previous two though the slapstick antics he’s involved with don’t mesh all that well with his more effective use of deadpan wit in other films. Devon Bostick continues as the airheaded, mean-spirited older brother Rodrick from the previous movies (a musical performance by his awful garage band goes on too long), and Melissa Roxburgh scores as his egotistical female counterpart as Holly’s spoiled sister Heather.
The film has been transferred in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is offered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. It’s a perfect transfer with sharpness so crisp and color so vivid that it’s a pleasure to watch even when antics on screen grow a bit wearisome. Flesh tones are very natural and appealing, and black levels are superb. The black and white pencil sketch animated sequences are a special pleasure. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is nothing particularly special. Much of the mix is directed toward the front three channels with the rear channels used basically for bleed or spillover. Background music by Edward Shearmur and occasional pop tunes are about the only component of the mix to use the rear channels with any consistency. Dialogue has been nicely recorded and has been placed firmly in the center channel.
The audio commentary for this edition of the movie is a solo effort by director David Bowers. Though there are some momentary gaps, he manages to find things to talk about but mostly about shot choices within various scenes. It’s not all that interesting the second time around if you heard his shared commentary with Jeff Kinney on the last film.
Unless otherwise noted, the bonus material is presented in 1080p.
There are ten deleted scenes which can be viewed individually or in one 9 ¾ minute grouping. Optional commentary by the director can be turned on or off for these scenes.
“Class Clown” is a 3-minute short animated film in the Jeff Kinney-style with further adventures of Greg and his pals.
“Fox Movie Channel Presents Wimpy Empire” is a two-part look at the life and career of author Jeff Kinney as he talks about his writing, his full-time job (which is running a website for youngsters), and his family. It runs 10 minutes in 480i.
The film’s gag reel runs 5 minutes.
The film’s theatrical trailer runs 1 ¾ minutes.
The disc is BD-Live active, but there is no content on the website in addition to what’s offered on the disc.
There are promo trailers for Parental Guidance, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Chasing Mavericks, and Crooked Arrows.
The second disc in the set is the combination DVD/digital copy of the movie.
3.5/5 (not an average)
If you liked the previous two films in the series, you’ll certainly find nothing to complain about with Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days; it’s more of the same troubles and triumphs for Greg Heffley and his friends. The Blu-ray offers reference video quality and decent audio with a moderate selection of bonus material. It will make pleasant family viewing for sure.