DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: RODRICK RULES

While not as snappy as the original, this movie's signal pleasure is
the return of the wonderfully natural Zachary Gordon. There aren't
many 13-year-olds who can shoulder most of a feature — ok, Christian
Bale in Empire of the Sun. But unlike that epic, DIARY 2 is a
disposable, if painless, trifle — yet it further showcases a kid
about whom it was already obvious has talent that could go the
distance. There's an almost Seinfeldian lack of plot this time around;
it's mostly Middle Child Syndrome snapshots, all of them familiar-to-
shopworn, some of them heartfelt, others synthetic. Zachary's chubby
friend Robert Capron is back and just as painfully sweet, but with not
quite as much good material. And Devon Bostick as the mean older
brother is like the love child of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Long; too
bad his relationship with Gordon doesn't reach Just Friends levels —
but that's a high bar to clear. — Jeff Schultz

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