Making the Grades
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a funny, family-friendly film based on the popular graphic novels by Jeff Kinney. Suitable for most older children, it is told from the perspective of the new-to-middle-school Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon). However, it will likely resonate with almost anyone who has endured what might be the worst three years of adolescence.
Heading off to Westmore Middle School is rather daunting for Greg who has been repeatedly warned by his browbeating older brother (Devon Bostick) to keep his head down and his mouth shut in order to avoid any unwanted attention. But Greg has aspirations of being voted one of the Class Favorites in the school yearbook and is determined to make his mark among his classmates.
Unfortunately his ambitions seem to backfire at every attempt and when he gets noticed it’s for all the wrong things. At first Greg blames his chubby and childish friend Rowley (Robert Capron) for being his obstacle to instant popularity. Rowley, after all, rides a purple bike to school, wears juvenile t-shirts and still wants to get together after school to play—instead of hang out. But when Rowley breaks his arm in an accident (caused by Greg), it is the injured boy who gets attention from sympathetic female students and is invited to sit at their table in the cafeteria.
Faced with peer pressure and bullies, subjected to the embarrassment of gym class and humiliated for being depicted as a loser on the front page of the school paper, Greg faces some difficult but not totally unbelievable situations as his constant clamoring for acclaim continues to flop. While he is lucky to have fairly involved parents (Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn), most incidents—including a schoolyard brawl—happen away from any adult presence. The preteen and his friends are left on their own to deal with some weighty moral dilemmas and tough realities. Still, the story offers plenty of laughs with relatively infrequent bouts of potty humor and name-calling.
Whether you relate to Greg or Rowley or any of their classmates including the wise-beyond-her-years Angie (Chloe Moretz), the hygiene-challenged Fregley (Grayson Russell) or the undersized Chirag (Karan Brar), there will likely be some recollections, unpleasant or otherwise, that surface for adult viewers during this all-to-real visit to the classroom. (The guy sitting next to me alternately groaned and laughed as his school experiences came flooding back to memory.) And for younger audience members, especially those who love the books, the script includes some insightful lessons into the value of friendship, the importance of accepting yourself and the cost of seeking celebrity status.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
What good efforts does Greg make to try and fit in at school? Why do they fail so often? Is Rowley more accepting of himself than Greg is? Is this an unusual character portrayal?
What does Greg’s mom mean when she says that choices are what make us who we are? What moral dilemmas does Greg face in this story? How does peer pressure impact the characters in this film?