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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by David Bowers

Studio: 20th Century Fox
Year: 2011

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 99 minutes
Rating: PG
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish

Region: A
MSRP: $ 39.99


Release Date: June 21, 2011

Review Date: June 24, 2011



The Film

3/5


After the generally positive reception to 2010’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the powers that be try their luck for a second time with Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. As fresh and funny as the first film was, that’s how familiar and overdone this latest effort is. We’re still plowing the same territory: the continuing humiliations of a young middle schooler as he makes his way through the perils of school with a cadre of nemeses and home where older brother Rodrick makes his life continually miserable. For younger family members, the overuse of slapstick and the overplayed, broadly drawn characters will likely still find a ready audience, but older viewers are less likely to find these shenanigans as much goofy fun as they were the first time around.


Now entering the seventh grade, Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) has reason to hope that this year will be better. He and his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) are no longer on the low end of the school totem pole, and the dreaded cheese hand from the previous year has been passed along to another unlucky schmuck. There’s also a dreamy new girl entering Westmore Middle School, Holly Hills (Peyton List) who’s an honor student, a terrific star at soccer, and gorgeous. But the old enemies continue to plague Greg and Rowley at school and at home brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) alternates between brotherly camaraderie (usually at the insistence of their mom played by Rachael Harris) and being Satan incarnate to him.


There is an entire series of cartoon books written by Jeff Kinney, but all of the notions brought into this sequel by screenwriters Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah echo rather obviously from the earlier film without exploring much of anything new (apart from the sporadic glimmers of affection between the brothers which are delivered in tiny dribbles and usually reneged on almost immediately). All of the expected embarrassments continue to harass Greg: caught in the ladies room, finding a chocolate stain on the backside of his pants while entering church, wearing a speedo instead of board shorts to the pool, passing a love note that is mistakenly given to a guy instead of Holly, and on and on. That friend Rowley luxuriates in his inner nerd instead of fighting it should have finally sunk into Greg’s head by now, but he stubbornly fights it to no avail and always to a mortifying end. David Bowers has taken over the direction of the sequel, and while he uses the animation to interesting effect early, he stops and drops the concept later on while pitching the action and performances at frantic levels that make everything seem too broad and unbelievable (that teen party where everyone chugs soda and forms a conga line is the last straw). Subtle is not a word that could ever be used to describe this movie.


Zachary Gordon continues to perform the ambitious Greg with an impressive lack of ego and willingness to do anything. Devon Bostick has a much larger part in the sequel as the alternately helpful and hurtful big brother, and he does well with the limitedly written character. Robert Capron likewise embraces all that’s sweet and innocent about the last vestiges of childhood before entering adolescence in a very appealing portrayal. Steve Zahn is the least well served of the adults finding little to do with his dad role other than make pained faces at the camera. Rachael Harris’ mother seems too intelligent to be so oblivious to what’s going on around her. But then reality isn’t really the prime asset of this forced sequel.



Video Quality

5/5


The film is presented in its 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio and delivered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. It’s a very bright, very sharp, and very colorful transfer with deep saturation levels with all of the hues and flesh tones which likewise seem richly colored, perhaps too rich for some. Black levels are excellent, and the transfer is completely free from any annoying and distracting artifacts. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.



Audio Quality

3.5/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack follows the route of most film comedies and concentrates its ambient sounds and dialogue across the front soundstage with the rears almost exclusively the domain of the music score by Edward Shearmur and the expected pop tunes. There is good spread of the music through the entire range of available channels, but otherwise immersion in this world is limited.



Special Features

3/5


The audio commentary is provided by director David Bowers and original book writer Jeff Kinney. They split their comments rather fairly throughout the track though Kinney may tend to talk just a bit more and there are silences with some frequency.


All of the bonus featurettes are presented in 1080p.


“My Summer Vacation” is the best of the extras on the disc. It’s seven blackout sketches featuring the younger actors in character talking about one or more summer experiences. Most are funny, and none run very long. Together they run 9 minutes, but the viewer can choose to watch any of them individually.


There are ten deleted scenes which can be viewed with or without commentary by director David Bowers. They can also be viewed individually or in one 9 ¼-minute grouping.


The film’s gag reel runs 4 ½ minutes.


There is an alternate ending for the movie which features audio commentary by the director which you can turn on or off. It runs 1 ½ minutes.


The theatrical trailer runs 1 ¾ minutes.


The disc is BD-Live ready, and the internet site does contain one exclusive featurette: “Plainview’s Most Talented” which offers 2 minutes with four young actors discussing their acts that they perform during the talent show sequence that concludes the picture.


The disc features promo trailers for Rio and Marley & Me: The Puppy Years.


The second disc in the set is the DVD copy of the movie.


The third disc in the set is the digital copy of the movie with enclosed instructions on installation for PC and Mac devices.



In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules offers more of the same humiliations and slapstick shenanigans as the first film only this time broader and less interesting than before. Younger family members will likely enjoy the chicanery, and if older viewers are in the right mood, some of it may strike their funny bones as well.




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC

 

mattCR

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My youngest son loved this in the theater. At $14, it's an instant buy (Amazon) everywhere local wants $19...
 

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