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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Cheesiest Edition Blu-ray & DVD Combo Review

Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie poster Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Theatrical Release: March 19, 2010 / Running Time: 92 Minutes / Rating: PG / Songs List

Director: Thor Freudenthal / Writers: Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo, Gabe Sachs, Jeff Judah (screenplay); Jeff Kinney (book)

Cast: Zachary Gordon (Greg Heffley), Robert Capron (Rowley Jefferson), Rachael Harris (Susan Heffley), Steve Zahn (Frank Heffley), Devon Bostick (Rodrick Heffley), Connor Fielding & Owen Fielding (Manny Heffley), Chloë Grace Moretz (Angie Steadman), Grayson Russell (Fregley), Laine MacNeil (Patty Farrell), Karan Brar (Chirag Gupta), Alex Ferris (Collin), Andrew McNee (Coach Malone), Belita Moreno (Mrs. Norton), Rob LaBelle (Mr. Bertrand Winsky), Nicholas Carey (Pete Hosey), Samuel Patrick Chu (Carter), Donnie MacNeil (Wade), Samantha Page (Shelly), Ava Hughes (Marley)

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and Kelvin Cedeno

Based on the first of Jeff Kinney's growing series of children's books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid centers on Greg Heffley, an average boy who is driven to become popular upon starting middle school. Greg (Zachary Gordon) is short, skinny, and without any discernible talent.
As the title suggests, he keeps a diary (he'd prefer we call it a "journal", actually) of scribblings and stick figures to document and decipher the life of an unexceptional sixth grader.

Against his mean older brother's (Devon Bostick) advice, Greg remains close to his longtime best friend, overweight, overexcited Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron). Greg and Rowley struggle to fit in, getting stuck on the first day eating lunch on the cafeteria floor with Fregley (Grayson Russell), the least popular kid in school.

Greg figures the path to social status requires an extracurricular activity. He tries his hand at wrestling, performing in the school musical, and being a safety patrol officer. None of those seem to pan out as desired and Greg discovers achieving popularity is less predictable than he thought. While trying to elevate his standing, Greg harms his kinship with Rowley, who finds a new best friend and effortlessly climbs the popularity ladder.

Wimpy kid Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) takes his first steps in the treacherous halls of middle school. Rowley (Robert Capron) and Greg (Zachary Gordon) find the football field bleachers the perfect shady spot to hide out and avoid gym class humiliation on the skins team.

I guess middle school is a rite of passage for many kids around the globe. In the three years before high school, pre-teens and young teenagers apparently have the chance to for their reputation to be rewritten and their personality redefined. As someone who attended schools that ran from kindergarten to 8th grade, I missed out on that experience. But I feel I got the gist of it watching Cory, Shawn, and Topanga move from 6th grade to the six-year high school from which they would graduate in four seasons of "Boy Meets World." Is it wrong that I can admit that without the slightest bit of embarrassment or depression?

Diary actually reminded me a lot of Season 1 "Boy Meets World", with Greg displaying the same hopes and insecurities that Ben Savage's curly-haired protagonist once did. The movie covers much of the same ground as the '90s TGIF staple with less skill and no laugh track but nearly as episodic a form. If, as the case may well be, you are more familiar with a different portrayal of upper elementary school life, you may likely draw your own parallel.

Though Kinney's first book was only published in 2007, there is very little to distance this universe from those of, say, Judy Blume or Roald Dahl. Kids can be cliquish and cruel, and the smallest thing can determine what end of teasing or bullying you're on. Diary doesn't rewrite the rules or reconfigure the sides, and even its journal-keeping angle does little to distinguish it from other lightly comedic children's fare. But the movie is earnest and level-headed, making sure to deliver as many sage, tactful reassurances as bodily jokes.

The film's resolution and turns getting there are pretty transparent. Perhaps the biggest question is how an old moldy piece of Swiss cheese poetically decomposing on the playground will factor into the lessons learned.

School safety patrol is one of a number of extracurricular activities with which Rowley (Robert Capron) and Greg (Zachary Gordon) attempt to make their mark. At 42, Steve Zahn is now in the prime age bracket for family film father roles.

Save for current video game glimpses, technology is practically absent, rendering this story accessible beyond kids, parents, and teachers. In fact, certain bits are clearly aimed at 1980s teens (a dated self-esteem educational video and a play director who rehearses students by having them take turns singing Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart").
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But the movie is first and foremost for today's kids, forgoing more extensive nostalgia and playing strongest with those who haven't yet entered middle school.

The film's relatively novice child actors impress, finding effective delivery without coming across as actors. They get to do the majority of work and Diary doesn't even waste time or money giving teacher cameos to celebrities. Playing Greg's parents, Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn are neither over- nor underused, providing nice support without having to do heavy comedic lifting. A young actress who seems destined for big stardom, Chloë Grace Moretz of Kick-Ass fame/infamy, plays new invention Angie Steadman, a 7th grade school newspaper writer whose wisdom Greg shuns.

Children's movies that are short on visual effects and imaginative concepts tend to be modest box office performers. (Bridge to Terabithia, one recent exception, was sold on false pretenses.) Diary of a Wimpy Kid didn't exactly overthrow that trend, but its $64 million domestic gross on a $15 production budget made it quite profitable. 20th Century Fox appreciated that, especially in a year that's found their far more expensive movies (The A-Team, Knight & Day, Percy Jackson & the Olympians) barely reaching higher. The studio was so pleased with Diary's numbers that they've greenlit and fast-tracked a sequel, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules, which started shooting in Vancouver this week and will open in theaters on March 25, 2011.

That leaves you with less than seven months before Opening Day to catch this original film. It is now available on DVD and in this review's subject, a 3-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo dubbed The Cheesiest Edition (its only Blu-ray edition to date).

Buy Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Cheesiest Edition Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Combo from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

BD: 1.85:1 Widescreen; DVD: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
BD: DTS-HD 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English), Dolby Surround (Spanish, French)
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Three single-sided discs (BD-50, DVD-9 & DVD-5 DVD-ROM)
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover Book
Also available in Standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP)


On Blu-ray, Diary of a Wimpy Kid appears in its 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, with results as positive as can be expected. Colors appear consistently warm and vivid throughout the presentation, never bleeding. Other digital defects such as compression and edge enhancement are completely absent. While the image remains pretty detailed as a whole, it's occasionally a bit soft which may or may not be source-related. While that prohibits the image from excelling, it's still pleasing, regardless.

The Blu-ray's 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track won't be winning any technical awards, but it doesn't strive to. Lighthearted comedies in this vein favor dialogue that's pretty much relegated to the front of the sound field. That aspect sounds appropriately natural and clear. Sound effects seem fine but don't exhibit a great deal of surround mixing. Only the musical aspect of the track broadens things up, though that still remains fairly low-key. All the elements are mixed evenly and should satisfy all listeners.

The DVD delivers good, not great picture quality. It's a little more artifacty than it ought to be and the colors seem overly warm. It's absolutely watchable and largely fine, but compression should have been turned down (the disc stays well under DVD-9 capacity), as this is weaker than many of its contemporaries as flawlessness is regularly redefined. There is less to notice and complain about regarding the DVD's Dolby 5.1 soundtrack. It's not an especially potent mix, but music is regularly used to satisfying effect (sampled songs list at the bottom of the review).

Short kid Chirag Gupta (Karan Brar) offers advice to surviving middle school in this "deleted diary page" short. The trailer-opening embarrassing school send-off given by Greg's mom (Rachael Harris) is preserved as a deleted scene.


On both DVD and Blu-ray, Diary of a Wimpy Kid's modest collection of extras begins with ten "Deleted Diary Pages" (9:40). Six of these are the deleted scenes you'd expect,
while three are first-person addresses from the supporting characters Fregley (Grayson Russell) and Chirag Gupta (Karan Brar). The last listing holds five of Rowley's comic strips for the school paper, each ending in the line "Zoo-Wee Mama!" A "Play All" option is missed, especially on the brief deleted scenes which run just 20 to 50 seconds each (Fregley and Chirag's shorts are almost 3 minutes).

Next comes an audio commentary by director Thor Freudenthal (Hotel for Dogs) and Gabe Sachs, one of the film's four credited screenwriters. Freudenthal does most of the speaking and talks over most of the film, focusing on specifics and more on production than adaptation. Some of the topics discussed include working with kids and using bluescreen for the (highly artificial) snowy town shot. I'm guessing the target audience won't be too enthralled.

Then, we get the theatrical trailer (1:50) for Diary of a Wimpy Kid, an easy, obvious, and highly welcome inclusion which opens with a deleted gag presented above.

Zoo-Wee-Mama! A gallery provides a taste of Rowley's popular comic strip series seen in the school newspaper. Illustrated and live-action (Grayson Russell) versions of freckly nerd Fregley appear on the DVD's main menu.

Finally, there is a 3½-minute video explaining how to make use of digital copies. It's got the stylings of the "I'm a Mac. I'm a PC." commercials, but it's dead serious and hilariously detailed. With Marmaduke combo preorders showing up sans digital copy, it seems like Fox may already be reconsidering digital copies as a standard inclusion.

Disc 3 is a DVD-ROM holding only a digital copy of the film.

The menus predictably give us animated renderings of the diary sketches and screen-filling clips.

The Blu-ray disc opens with trailers for Ramona and Beezus, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Marley and Me: The Terrible 2's, and Marmaduke. The DVD loads with ads for simple, fast, portable digital copies, Ramona and Beezus, Dawn Treader, Marmaduke, and Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back. The Blu-ray's "Sneak Peek" menu holds previews for Tooth Fairy and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief; so does the DVD's, along with promos for Flicka 2, Strawberry Shortcake: The Berryfest Princess Movie, Terrible 2's, and Fox Family Favorites.

The Blu-ray combo pack offers more than the commonplace cardboard slipcover. Its front opens up for a sturdy 6-page "Diary of an Awesome, Friendly Kid." Credited to Rowley Jefferson, the two entries and accompanying illustrations are a fun touch. Besides supplying your unique digital copy code, inserts promote Wimpy Kid books and Percy Jackson.

Best friend Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron) pops out with a Zoo-Wee-Mama while Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) delivers his closing address.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid doesn't do much to distinguish itself from other middle school comedies, but it remains sufficiently likable and diverting. The movie will most appeal to the pre-teen demographic, to whom it will seem freshest.

Fox's Blu-ray & DVD combo displays no more creativity than the film it holds. Fans may want more, but most may be satisfied with the 10-minute "deleted diary pages" section and the cool packaging. Even with a moniker attached and a sequel in pre-production, this movie doesn't seem like a great candidate for a superior re-release, so potential buyers weary of upgrades can probably rest easy. Most viewers will be better served by a rental.

More on the Blu-ray + DVD Combo / Buy from Amazon.com / Buy the DVD / Buy the Book

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid Songs List (in order of use): The Vines - "Ride", Kaiser Chiefs - "Never Miss a Beat", The International Sejong Soloists - "The Four Seasons (Autumn)", Scott Kinney - "More Than I Can Do (Instrumental Version)", Löded Diper - "Time to Die", White Demons - "Tear It Up", Ali Dee - "Super Freak", Generationals - "When They Fight, They Fight", Smash Mouth - "Hot", Ali Dee and the Deekompressors - "Up Rock (Slow Version)", Brian Tichy - "Live to Rock", Electric Six - "Danger! High Voltage", Teddybears feat. Mad Cobra - "Cobrastyle", Salt 'n' Pepa feat. En Vogue - "Whatta Man", 1990s - "You're Supposed to Be My Friend", "O.K. Mr. Hillbilly", "We Three Trees", "Total Eclipse of the Heart", Chic - "Le Freak", Jukebox The Ghost - "The Popular Thing", Beastie Boys - "Intergalactic", Forever The Sickest Kids - "What Do You Want From Me"

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Reviewed August 26, 2010.

Text copyright 2010 DVDizzy.com. Screencaps from DVD. Images copyright 2010 20th Century Fox, Color Force Productions, and Fox Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.