Middle school can be tricky for kids -- and for others, it can be downright terrifying. Just ask tween Greg Heffley (played by Zachary Gordon), the titular wimp in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," directed by Thor Freudenthal and based on the illustrated novel by Jeff Kinney.
In the film, which arrived on DVD Aug. 3 ($29.99) from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Greg has to navigate home life as the middle child, as well as the upcoming tween torture that is Middle School. He's stuck between an older brother who delights in terrorizing him (when he's not playing in his band, Loded Diper) and a younger brother who's in the process of potty training. (Maybe he should be in the band, too. Just sayin'.)
But it's when Greg starts middle school as a 7th grader that things really get treacherous. It's also where the movie picks up speed. Greg has immediately tasked himself with improving his popularity status, and Kinney's illustrations fit nicely into this recurring theme of moving up and down the kiddo social ladder.
Inevitably, there are taunts from the bigger kids -- some of whom look as if they'd be comfortable playing college football -- and cafeteria crises. There is also a huge moment, when Greg must choose between his friendship with Rowley (Robert Capron) and possible humiliation.
And don't forget about the decomposing slice of cheese that's sure to have "nuclear cooties."
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid" is a charming film that tackles middle school angst with all the appropriate awkwardness. A fun, family-friendly movie, it also shows what it means to be a friend to someone, especially when it's most important.
Fortunately, as the parent of a little one, preschool politics are practically nonexistent. But the movie gives me a terrifying glimpse into the not-so-distant future.