Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules shifts the focus to brotherhood. Something I can very much relate to. Just like the first book, I read Jeff Kinney’s 2008 follow up book Rodrick Rules before seeing the movie. The movie was also an immediate follow up since Fox needed to strike while the iron was hot. Middle Schoolers aren’t getting any younger. Zachary Gordon’s voice changed, but Robert Capron and most other classmates sound about the same. After reading the sequel, I realized just how many scenes in Diary of a Wimpy Kid were borrowed from Rodrick Rules. The adaptation is comparable to the first in terms of what they add, subtract, or alter. Animation is still used in all the usual places.
As Greg Heffley enters the 7th grade, his brothers get on his nerves more than usual. His younger brother Manny is a tattletail and older brother Rodrick continues to pick on him. Devon Bostick is given more of a spotlight with a better understanding of his sibling rivalry and rock band Löded Diper. Steve Zahn is just as overly enthusiastic as he was before, but it’s Rachel Harris who has more time to shine as their embarrassing music loving mom. Rowley is still Greg’s best friend, but he mostly tags along or focuses on magic. Absent characters like Fregley or Patty stick around and Chirag is given his “Invisible Chirag” storyline from the book.
Greg’s crush Holly Hills is mentioned in Rodrick Rules, but she doesn’t become important until later books. The movie casts a young Peyton List as Holly in order to give Greg a romantic subplot. At least she replaces the unnecessary original character from the first movie. The film keeps Greg’s embarrassing summer, “Mom Bucks,” Rodrick’s wild party, Rowley’s sleepover, visiting grandpa at a retirement home, and a talent competition. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules isn’t a deep representation of brotherhood, but it is an okay way to kill an hour and a half.