Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2021)

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This article is about the 2021 CGI animated film. You may be looking for the 2010 live action film of the same name.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2021)
DOAWK 2021.jpg
Genre: Comedy
Directed By: Swinton Scott
Produced By: Jeff Kinney
Nina Jacobson
Brad Simpson
Written By: Jeff Kinney
Based On: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
by Jeff Kinney
Starring: Brady Noon
Ethan William Childress
Chris Diamantopoulos
Distributed By: Disney+
Release Date: December 3, 2021
Runtime: 58 minutes
Country: United States
Canada
Language: English
Franchise: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Prequel: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (by release date)
Sequel: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2022)


Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a 2021 American-Canadian computer-animated comedy film based on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series by Jeff Kinney, specifically, the first book of the same name. This movie serves as the official reboot of the series after Disney acquired Fox. The film is produced by Walt Disney Pictures and an uncredited 20th Century Animation and animated by Canadian studio Bardel Entertainment. It was released on Disney+ on December 3, 2021.

Plot

Greg Heffley dreams of becoming famous while surviving middle school with his best friend, Rowley Jefferson.

Bad Qualities

  1. The biggest problem with the movie is Jeff Kinney being one of the writers since he's not a professional screenplay writer. The way that he wrote the movie is by making it acts like the viewers already read the books, so it doesn't have to try and surprise you with anything and it just simply shows you most of the main points from the first book without adding any substance to its memorable and entertaining moments. Not to mention, the beginning of the movie just explains everything to you instead of showing it such as Rodrick explaining the cheese touch to Greg, whereas the book and live-action movie kept it as a secret for later, but the lack of subtlety ruins it here. Sure Jeff Kinney is involved in the previous films like the 2010 film, but even then he was only the executive producer and let's others write the film
    • Something else that doesn't help either is the fact that this exact issue was talked about in the first Wimpy Kid Movie Diary book, which was first published in 2010 alongside the first live-action movie. It's almost as if Kinney read his own book while making the script for this movie and decided to throw out everything he previously said.
  2. The film is 58 minutes long, which is far too short for the book to squeeze all of its content into it, which ends up making it feel rushed. This leads to many scenes such as The Wizard of Oz play (although it was mentioned) and even the Safety Patrol plot (the turning point in Greg and Rowley's relationship and the reason why they stopped being friends in the first place), getting cut out from the film entirely.
  3. For a 2021 released Disney movie, the animation looks rather weak for 2021 standards and it doesn't translate that well into a 3D style. With some exceptions like Greg Heffley, Susan Heffley, and Rowley, the character designs look very uncanny (especially their tongues) when put into a 3D space and it causes most of the character designs to look quite ugly, with Manny and Fregley being good examples of this. It also doesn't help early concepts for the movie showed that the movie was going to be like The Peanuts Movie where it would be CGI, but the characters would be displayed on a 2D vector instead of a 3D one. You can tell it is trying to have the same art style that the Peanuts and Captain Underpants had, where it looks like the characters look like they walked right out of the book. But the thing is, those franchises were already in color so the creators had more to work with.
    • And also, due to the facial designs being translated from the book into 3D, most of the characters have very poor facial expressions as they don't always have eyebrows which negatively affects their angry or sad moments, and the mouth movements on the characters doesn't always sync that well with the dialogue, and the mouths are positioned on the sides of the characters faces which leads to some very painfully awkward looking shots such as that scene where Greg smirks.
    • At many moments in the movie, you can find scenes where this girl model who looks like Holly Hills (who shouldn't be in this movie in the first place, since she actually appeared in Rodrick Rules) is rehashed. In fact, there is about 43 times you can see rehashed models.
    • Also, the character movements can be stiff at times, which is especially noticeable in the 2D-animated scenes.
    • There are also some minor animation errors here and here, like body parts occasionally passing through the clothes.
    • Sometimes, the lighting looks too dark in some scenes, such as most of the scenes that take place indoors.
    • Most of these problems occured because of the low budget. It isn't theatrical, so the film couldn't have any expensive animation that could be found in an actual theatrical film, unlike the Peanuts movie, which was theatrical and had a higher budget.
    • Not to mention, much like The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, it's still not a great idea to outsource the film's animation to a Canadian studio since the production of computer animated movies are something recent in Canada and the majority of the studios out there only use CGI for visual effects and TV shows, and it should be much if the animation was done at Walt Disney Animation Studios instead.
  4. There are many problems with the characters.
    • The main characters - Greg Heffley and Rowley Jefferson - while not unlikable, aren't interesting or charming characters in this movie.
      • Much like with the book, Greg is a bit of a whiny brat and terrible friend to Rowley - but whereas that was the point since Greg is supposed to be an anti-role model and character you're not exactly supposed to sympathize with or root for, this movie tries to build so much sympathy to Greg that you want him and Rowley to become friends again, even though his actions towards Rowley would end most friendships.
      • On the flipside, Rowley is no better than Greg since he literally steals his comic idea "Zoo-Wee Mama" rather than come up with it himself - which unfairly earns him fame and popularity while Greg is made an outcast. While it is true that Greg broke Rowley's arm, the latter's own misdeeds are never presented in the wrong (aside from Greg calling Rowley out).
    • With the exception of Greg's mom, Manny and Fregley, none of the other minor characters are really given that much screen time to make much of an impression in this movie as they did in the live-action movies, which makes their scenes forgettable.
      • This is especially true for Rodrick, who had a larger minor role in the first book, but only appears in this movie for a short amount of time. In fact, he appears for a total of 5 minutes.
      • In addition, a few characters from the book were either removed entirely (Patty Farrell, even though she is mentioned) or replaced (Bryce Anderson (replaced by George Deveney) and Collin Lee (replaced by Chirag Gupta)).
      • Fregley's new design isn't faithful at the original and looks like a poor man's version of Carl Wheezer from Jimmy Neutron.
    • Almost everyone has partially been dumbed down from their book counterparts.
      • It is obvious that Disney forced all of the characters to become way too relatable, which takes away some of the charm from their book/live-action counterparts.
  5. This movie has no real overall message other than that it's more important to be kind than to be popular, but even this is undermined due to the movie's constant vilifying of unpopular kids as gross or weird that deserve to be shunned or ridiculed such as Fregley.
  6. The comedy is really dull here as there are not that many jokes in it, and when they happen, they're pretty basic.
    • Not to mention, there are a few poor moments of gross out humor too, such as the scene where Greg gets Fregley's booger on his hand. While that scene was funny in the live action movie, it's not here due to the booger looking like stringy lump of snot, which makes it look nauseating.
  7. While most of the voice acting is good, some of it can either be clumsy or have poor audio quality, particularly Erica Cerra as Greg's mom, who people have pointed out that her it sounds like an iPhone 6 voice record. Also, while it may be understandable that certain actors, including Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron, etc cannot reprise their roles given that they are currently way older than their previous starring roles, it was also a missed opportunity for Steve Zahn, Rachel Harris, and Devin Bostrick to reprise their roles since their voices are still the same.

Good Qualities

  1. The rest of the voice acting is good, particularly Greg's voice actor Brady Noon. Despite the awkward quality, Erica Cerra was okay as Susan Heffley.
  2. While the animation looks very uncanny, it still tries to follow Kinney's art style.
    • And speaking of animation, there are 2D segments that are faithful to the book's illustrations, and they are also quite welcome because of it, even if they don't happen much and the character movements in said scenes are a bit choppy.
    • Also, thanks to the movie being animated, it helps prevent the characters from aging at least, unlike the last movie.
    • The animation can look impressive and smooth in certain scenes, such as when Greg does a handstand near the beginning of the film and most of the scenes that take place outside.
    • Also some designs are decent like Greg himself, Susan, and Rowley
  3. While most of the comedy not being that funny, there is some decent comedy within the film, such the a lot of the jokes in scene with Greg having a sleepover at Fregley's house (with the exception of the booger scene).
  4. The soundtrack is great, just like the live action films.
  5. The film does stay faithful to the book as there are even plenty of easter eggs to the original books, such as a Net Critterz poster and a Tower of Druids poster hanging in Greg's room, which is a reference to Cabin Fever.
  6. Despite the problems with the characters such as being dumbed down and having each major characters turn to minor, there are some decent (or at least tolerable) characters like Susan Heffley. Greg himself and Rowley, while still uninteresting and boring characters, can be decent in some scenes like the beginning and the ending of the film.

Reception

The film received mixed reviews by critics and fans of the book series and the 2010 movie, who praised the source material, voice acting and the soundtrack, but criticized the short runtime, comedy, uncanny animation, and lack of screen time of the most of the minor characters.

On review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an average critical approval rating of 64% based on 11 reviews, while having an audience score of 45% based over 50 reviews[1]. On Metacritic, it has an average score of 50%, indicating mixed or average reviews[2].

It currently holds of 5.1/10 on IMDb.

Trivia

  • The film was originally in-development at 20th Century Animation, but was changed to a Walt Disney Pictures release before completion. Additionally, despite Walt Disney Pictures or 20th Century Animation nor 20th Century Studios never being explicitly mentioned in the credits, the Walt Disney Pictures logo appears at the beginning of the film. The same thing happened with the terrible movie The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, while Ron's Gone Wrong decided to remain as a TCS animated feature and get positive reviews.

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