Making the Grades
Greg Heffley’s (Zachary Gordon) junior high angst may have garnered sympathy in the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie. But he has since grown into a compulsive (even pathological) liar. When summer arrives, his goal is to spend all of it playing video games. He knows his dad (Steve Zahn) won’t approve so from day one he plans to pull a fast one on old pop.
Greg’s only other diversion is Holly Hills (Peyton List), the perky blonde with a list of service-oriented activities to fill her off months. When Gregdiscovers Holly is a member of the same country club as his chubby pal Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron), he takes advantage of his friend’s good nature and worms his way into the exclusive establishment.
But what may have been excusable when Greg was a 12-year-old now seems indefensible. His insecurity and immaturity have become outright meanness. After being invited for a weekend away with Rowley and his parents (Bronwen Smith, Alf Humphreys), Greg sends out a derogatory email to Mr. Jefferson’s entire mailing list. He also convinces Rowley to disregard his parents’ instructions and mocks their family rituals. When Rowley’s parents refuse (and rightly so) to let the two boys hang out together, Greg fibs his way into the country club, assuming whatever identity he needs to get past the front desk. And once inside, he opens the back gate to let his feckless brother Roderick (Devon Bostick) in so he can ogle Holly’s older sister Heather (Melissa Roxburgh).
When Mr. Heffley secures an internship for his son at the office, Greg lies about having another job at the club. He rolls his eyes at his mother’s (Rachael Harris) efforts to engage him in literature and snubs his nose at the idea of joining a scouting group. To say that Greg Heffley has become unlikeable is an understatement.
Although Steve Zahn’s over-the-top antics as an inept dad elicit laughs, all the adults in this film are exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness. That not only makes them seem pathetic, it is also easier to justify the kids’ superiority in this story. Unfortunately that means consequences are almost nonexistent for Greg’s bad behavior. With several seemingly good opportunities for Greg to take responsibility for his falsehoods, the filmmakers wimp out, letting Greg get away with a last minute, half-hearted attempt at an apology.
This kid might have been wimpy once but he’s become downright deceitful.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.
These movies are based on the writings of Jeff Kinney.
Greg’s mother wants her husband to be the kind of father to his children that he never had. How difficult is it to change from the parenting style you saw modeled as a child? Does Greg’s dad have a real relationship with any of his children? Why does the father/son relationship with Roderick seem to be ignored? What is the one common interest that Greg and his father share?
Who faces peer pressure in this story? Is it as difficult for adults to deal with as it is for teens? How does the Heffley family differ from their neighbors the Warrens? Which family is your’s most like?
What would have been realistic consequences for Greg to face for his actions?
What would be your perfect way to spend the summer? What are your favorite activities to engage in?