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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Review

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2011) movie poster Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Theatrical Release: March 25, 2011 / Running Time: 99 Minutes / Rating: PG / Songs List

Director: David Bowers / Writers: Gabe Sachs, Jeff Judah (screenplay); Jeff Kinney (book)

Cast: Zachary Gordon (Greg Heffley), Devon Bostick (Rodrick Heffley), Rachael Harris (Susan Heffley), Robert Capron (Rowley Jefferson), Steve Zahn (Frank Heffley), Connor Fielding (Manny Heffley), Owen Fielding (Manny Heffley), Peyton List (Holly Hills), Karan Brar (Chirag Gupta), Laine MacNeil (Patty Farrell), Grayson Russell (Fregley), Terence Kelly (Grandpa), Fran Kranz (Bill), Bryce Hodgson (Ben Segal), Andrew McNee (Coach Malone), John Shaw (Mr. Draybick), Alfred E. Humphreys (Rowley's Dad), Teryl Rothery (Mrs. Kohan), Serge Houde (Mr. Salz)

Buy Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy • 1-Disc DVD • 2-Disc DVD • Instant Video • Book

Diary of a Wimpy Kid was no box office behemoth, but shortly after the family comedy passed the $60 million mark domestically (four times its modest production budget),
Fox announced a sequel would be made. Fast-tracked, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules opened in theaters a year and a week after its predecessor did and it's already available on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack.

Rodrick Rules takes its title and plot from the second book in Jeff Kinney's best-selling series, published in 2008. The first movie introduced undersized protagonist Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) to the frightening world of middle school. A year older and wiser but not noticeably less wimpy, Greg is less stressed by the seventh grade, since all the places and faces are the same. Well, almost. There's a pretty new girl named Holly Hills (Peyton List), who immediately catches Greg's eye. Getting her to notice him is about the extent of the sequel's school concerns.

The bulk of the film emphasizes Greg's home life, which again finds him suffering from middle child syndrome, enjoying neither the freedom of his mischievous teenaged brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) nor the lack of consequence shielding his 3-year-old brother Manny (Connor and Owen Fielding). A talent contest offering a $1,000 cash prize excites everyone in town, including Greg and his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron), who are looking for Internet fame.

Public embarrassment strikes Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) on his way up to receive communion at a weekly church service. The subtitle "Rodrick Rules" is not a declaration but a reference to the helpful tips Greg's older brother (Devon Bostick) dispatches with gusto.

Meanwhile, Mom (Rachael Harris), whose parenting column is flourishing, gives Greg and Rodrick incentive to spend time together, paying them each one "Mom Buck" (redeemable for one real dollar) for every shared activity. Rodrick, who ordinarily wants nothing to do with his brother besides the occasional prank, takes her up on the offer and begins to prosper. And the brothers actually start to get along, bonding over a party they throw with their parents out of town that they go to great lengths to keep secret. Though the mutual understanding is somewhat short-lived, the brothers' complicated relationship is at the heart of this follow-up.

That works to its advantage. On sequels, there is the temptation to provide more of the same. After all, isn't that why sequels exist: to spend more time with characters and universes found enjoyable? This year has been so full of movies with numbers and colons in the titles that we've seen almost every conceivable approach, from simply relocating the same hijinks (The Hangover Part II) to throwing out everything but a few characters to tell an entirely different story (Cars 2). This second Wimpy Kid manages to remain true to what was established without repeating itself.

Accordingly, there is less setup and more story. Little from the first film is entirely dropped (mainly just Chloλ Grace Moretz's sage 7th grader), but none of it is belabored, not even the diary and cartoon character renderings that distinguished this series from other middle school ones. The Heffley family is clevely reintroduced in stick figure form before assuming the flesh and blood in which they spend the majority of the picture. Greg doesn't overcome his self-doubt and propensity for embarrassment; they just manifest in new forms, like a shameful church visit and a nearly naked run through his grandfather's nursing home. Broadly comedic episodes like these will divide audiences, but I found them reasonably diverting and buoyant.

Steve Zahn and Rachael Harris return to play Heffley parents Steve and Susan. New student Holly Hills (the young Peyton List) is the girl of Greg Heffley's fantasies.

They also give the film, despite its widened aspect ratio, a television feel. In my review of the first movie, I spent plenty of time comparing it to the second season of "Boy Meets World." This one reminded me more of the third and fourth seasons of that appealing sitcom, the shows where Cory and his older brother Eric, after years of being at cross purposes, are finally able to tolerate and respect one another in their shared adventures. Rodrick isn't as sharp and meaningful as that '90s TGIF staple, but it does okay for having just one sitting and 99 minutes to endear itself to you.
Greg and Rodrick's compatibility called to mind other television brothers as well, from the oft-at-odds Arnolds of "The Wonder Years" to the tight-knit Wrigleys of "The Adventures of Pete & Pete." Such shows rest in my all-time top tier of TV, so even if Wimpy Kid draws analogies to the small screen (the exclusive domain, outside this franchise, of returning screenwriters Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah), it's exemplary stuff being recalled.

Perhaps that's partly why this franchise elicits a measured response from me; no new family film has any chance of besting the shows and episodes retained enough to adore years and decades later. Though I believe Rodrick Rules exceeds its predecessor, I can't call it a great film, even judging it only against its live-action PG-rated contemporaries. It's just a little too standard and silly to perceive as something destined to stand the test of time. Still, it makes for a diverting viewing and, as overloaded as the industry has gotten with sequels, I wouldn't mind seeing a third film set in this world.

Nothing has been officially announced yet and Rodrick Rules' performance pointed to the typical law of diminishing returns. The sequel opened a touch bigger but faded faster. Its $52.6 million domestic take to date is more than $11 M behind the first film, which cost $5 M less to make. Nonetheless, as budgets soar and studios rely more heavily on tentpoles that can at best meet tall expectations, a surely profitable series such as this is a valuable commodity.

The second Wimpy Kid came to home video last week, with Fox releasing it in a single-disc DVD, a two-disc Special Edition DVD, and the subject of this review, a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy cover art -- click to buy combo pack from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.35:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
BD: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Surround (French)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Three single-sided discs (BD-50, DVD-9 & DVD-5 DVD-ROM)
Blue Keepcase
Also available in standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP), 2-Disc
Special Edition DVD
($34.98 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video


The Blu-ray's 2.35:1 widescreen transfer is not too spectacular. It has more grain and less polish than most of its contemporaries. Still, the presentation's vibrancy and sharpness leave it more than good enough. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio provokes a similar reaction. No one will be blown away by the sound quality or use it to demonstrate their home theater system's dynamism. But there is no better reason than that to take it to task.

The one upside to the average high-def treatment is that the DVD doesn't look or sound weak by comparison. Its decreased resolution actually seems to hide some of the same shortcomings and it's still clean and sharp enough to satisfy most viewers. Despite the varying amounts of compression, I didn't notice great difference between the Blu-ray's audio and the DVD's Dolby 5.1 mix.

The summers of Fregley Farly (Grayson Russell) and Holly Hills (Peyton List) overlap in one of seven "My Summer Vacation" shorts. "The Foot", the invented 1970s horror movie Greg and Rowley watch, is treated to a slight extension in the deleted scenes reel.


The Blu-ray's modest collection of all-HD extras begins with seven "My Summer Vacation" shorts (8:58), in which Greg, Rowley, Fregley (Grayson Russell), Holly, Chirag (Karan Brar), and Patty (Laine MacNeil) explain how they spent the summer in between 6th and 7th grades. Running a little over a minute each, the shorts include some footage from the first movie, but prefer unique original content, shot and performed with production values comparable to the films. They're the best bonus feature here.

Ten deleted scenes run 9 minutes and 20 seconds. They are a mix of mild extensions and insignificant snippets. The scenes are presented with terse optional commentary by director David Bowers.

Greg's nursing home story is revised in retelling in the partly-animated alternate ending "Stealthinator." Though Robert Capron (Rowley) holds it together, Karan Brar (Chirag) and Zachary Gordon (Greg) crack up in the gag reel.

The alternate ending "Stealthinator" (1:22) has Rodrick's telling of Greg's embarrassing nursing home incident changing his reputation at school in an unexpected way. In optional commentary, Bowers explains it was simply one ending too many.

A routine gag reel (4:23) offers unremarkable actor goofs and behind-the-scenes looks.

The film itself gets an audio commentary by David Bowers and author Jeff Kinney.
Their screen-specific chat is relaxed and detail-driven, touching on things like digital poop stains, striving for timelessness, and spit buckets. I don't imagine much of the target audience caring to hear this, but it demonstrates the thought that goes into the series.

One of the film's original theatrical trailers (1:44) is kindly preserved here, which is much better than none.

Rounding out the extras is Fox's super serious "Digital Copy 'How to'" (3:35), which is relevant, but overly detailed.

The DVD is probably identical to the one sold separately and Disc 1 of the two-disc Special Edition. It holds two of the "My Summer Vacation" shorts (2:44), the audio commentary, the Rodrick Rules trailer, and a Sneak Peek menu holding trailers for Gulliver's Travels, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and Arthur and the Invisibles 2 & 3.

Greg (Zachary Gordon) and Rodrick (Devon Bostick) bond over convenience store hot dog condiments on the DVD's main menu.

Disc 3 is simply a digital copy disc, unplayable in your standard player but in a DVD-ROM or BD-ROM drive able to unlock the film in iTunes and Windows Media formats for computer and portable device playback.

The 2-Disc Special Edition DVD adds the gag reel, six deleted scenes, and four additional "My Summer Vacation" shorts, meaning it delivers everything except one of the Vacation shorts, four of the deleted scenes,
the alternate ending, and the digital copy. That also means that its second disc holds about 15 minutes of bonus content, indicating it really didn't have to be a two-disc set. Furthermore, since those modest, premium-fetching gains haven't garnered too much interest, the 2-Disc DVD ($34.99 SRP) is actually now selling for $1.50 more than the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo ($39.99 SRP), which will hold more value for those who haven't competely shunned Blu-ray and those in the minority that actually redeems digital copies.

Both the Blu-ray and DVD open with promos for digital copy families, Rio, Marley & Me: The Puppy Years, and Fox's Year of a Million Moments.

The quiet Blu-ray and main DVD menu open with character drawings and transition into clips, with the BD placing all listings on crumpled strips of loose leaf paper, one per screen. Par for Fox, the Blu-ray is slow to load, but does an outstanding job of resuming playback and supports bookmarks on the movie as well.

The three discs, each adorned with unique, full-color label art, are packaged in a standard slim unslipcovered Blu-ray case with a swinging tray holding the first two discs. Inserts advertise the Wimpy Kid books and Fox family films, while also supplying directions and your unique code for redeeming the digital copy.

Dorky best friends Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) and Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron) seize a rare opportunity to live it up at Rodrick's unsupervised house party, a sequence cleverly depicted with a large number of still photographs.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules offers slight improvement over the original film. It plays like an above-average feature-length sitcom, something many will like and few will strongly love or hate. If you or your child enjoyed the first movie, you should definitely see this one as well.

Fox's Blu-ray combo delivers an adequate feature presentation and a decent smattering of bonus features. If you're looking to add this to your collection, the single-disc DVD seems unnecessarily light on bonus content, as does the Special Edition's second disc. That makes the combo pack more attractive and I guess that's the point.

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Boy Meets World: The Complete Third Season • Growing Pains: The Complete Second Season • The Even Stevens Movie

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules Songs List: The Vaccines - "Norgaard", Roge' - "Got Me By the Beat", Bosshouse - "Turn Me Out", Pilot - "Magic", Atlantic Starr - "Always", People Under the Stairs - "Trippin' at the Disco", David Cassidy - "Come On Get Happy", Kittie - "Cut Throat", Scott Kinney - "We're So Pompous", Jay Deachman - "Pigsty", Ke$ha - "Tik Tok", The Wildbirds - "Shake Shake", "All Things Bright & Beautiful", K.C. Booker - "One on One", Boys Like Girls - "Heart Heart Heartbreak", The DNC featuring Ms. Amani - "Electric", Bikini Machine - "Shake", Tokyo Police Club - "Wait Up (Boots of Danger)", Hammerwax - "Move Like Tis", The Bonars - "I Know You Want It", The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - "Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah", Karl Zero & The Wailers - "Jump in the Line (Deetown Remix)", Free Energy - "Light Love", The Hives - "Hey Little World", Mooney Suzuki - "Do It", The Boneless Ones - "Rock and Roll Slob", Ben Kweller - "This is War", Laine MacNeil - "Memory", DJ's Choice - "Yankee Doodle Dandy", Lior Rosner - "Teddy's Carnival", Lior Rosner - "Dragon Lady Parade", Lφded Diper - "Exploded Diper", Theodore Shapiro - "Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Main Theme)"

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Reviewed June 29, 2011.

Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Fox 2000 Picturees, Color Force Productions, and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
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