[Screen It]


(2017) (Jason Drucker, Charlie Wright) (PG)

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Comedy: A 12-year-old goes on a zany four-day road trip with his family to get to his grandmother's 90th birthday party.
Greg Heffley (JASON DRUCKER) is a 12-year-old boy whose life may as well be over, what with going viral on the Internet after video has spread of him accidentally getting his hand stuck on a soiled diaper at a restaurant's play area. To make matters worse, his parents -- Susan (ALICIA SILVERSTONE) and Frank (TOM EVERETT SCOTT) -- have just announced that the family -- that also includes 16-year-old Rodrick (CHARLIE WRIGHT) and their toddler brother, Manny (WYATT & DYLAN WALTERS) -- will be embarking on a four-day van trip to their grandmother's 90th birthday party.

To add insult to injury, Susan has announced this will be a technology free journey, not only shocking Greg and Rodrick, but also Frank who needs to work while on the road. Undeterred, Susan wants this to be a family bonding experience, all of which further complicates Greg's plan on trying to redeem his fragile social status. Having heard that online gamer Mac Digby (JOSHUA HOOVER) will be a gaming expo not far from his grandmother's house, Greg believes if he gets footage of him and Mac together, that might repair the damage from now having the moniker of "Diaper Hands."

Things become even more complicated when Greg accidentally runs afoul of a bearded father and his family. From that point on, Greg tries to avoid Mr. Beardo (CHRIS COPPOLA) all as one thing after another threatens his plan.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
When a new movie comes out that's either a sequel or a remake (reboot) to a past film, I have reviewer friends who go back and watch all such related installments or at least the original or the last film in the series that leads up to the new release. I'm not one of those people as I believe that any film should stand on its own, and I always hope that I'll have enough memory cells active to note how any such flick compares to the original or other films in such a series.

That said, while preparing to see "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul," I only sort of remembered the original film from 2010 (perhaps because I wasn't deeply familiar with or emotionally connected in any way to the source material). But through my little bit of research, I was surprised to discover that I did indeed review the 2011 sequel, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" and that our terrific reviewer Teddy also covered the second sequel, 2012's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days."

I guess none of those made any sort of impression, which would explain that after watching this latest installment based on Jeff Kinney's book of the same name, I was surprised to learn that everyone in the original cast from the earlier films had been jettisoned in favor of fresh, new faces. Of course, that makes sense since real-life kids grow up, but I completely zoned on the fact that even those playing the parents -- Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott -- replaced the original pairing of Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn.

Apparently, I'm oblivious in my middle age years or just aren't paying close enough attention, all of which fits in well with this movie's plot where the parents are portrayed as well-intentioned but often distracted and/or oblivious sorts, all as seen (and thus depicted) through the eyes of our young protagonist (Jason Drucker, taking over from Zachary Gordon). His dilemma -- beyond having to live with his family at the age of 12 -- is that a picture of him where he accidentally got a diaper stuck on his hand has gone viral on the Internet, giving him the less than socially attractive name of "Diaper Hands."

The screenplay -- by Kinney along with co-writer/director David Bowers -- then has him trying to fix that potentially life-ending issue (not literally, of course, but as viewed through the eyes and mind of a kid where the opinion of others pretty much means everything). And he thinks he'll get the chance when a four-day road trip presented by his parents (to attend his grandmother's 90th birthday bash) will take him near a gaming expo where a potential photo op with a famous player (Joshua Hoover) could make all right again in the world of Greg Heffley's reputation and social standing.

Not surprisingly, that will be easier said than done, and following in the tread marks of other past road trip movies, there will be plenty of bumps in the pavement along the way. All of which is fine and dandy (if not original) in concept, but Kinney and Bowers take the low road and present material that might entertain younger kids who enjoy body function jokes and fairly lame slapstick. But all of that could prove quite tiresome and trying for any teens and especially adults who find themselves stuck in front of a screen watching this unfold for 90-some minutes.

I will admit that I laughed at a moment or two -- mainly stemming from Charlie Wright playing the protagonist's dimwitted, 16-year-old brother, while a "Psycho" shower scene parody is decently handled. But most of the material is of the lowest common denominator variety and thus not particularly inspired or imaginative enough to make you want to accompany this dysfunctional family on their road trip. Yes, the last part of the title perfectly explains what it will be like to sit through this movie if you're not under the age of ten. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul" rates as a 3.5 out of 10.

Reviewed May 13, 2017 / Posted May 19, 2017

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