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Originally published March 24, 2011 at 12:06 AM | Page modified March 24, 2011 at 2:07 PM

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Movie review

'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules': Zoo-Wee Mama! The gang is back for more fun

A movie review of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," the equally entertaining but considerably different sequel to 2010's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." Zachary Gordon, playing the middle-school hero, and Devon Bostick, as his older brother, are very good as the lead characters.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3 stars

'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules,' with Devon Bostick, Zachary Gordon, Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn, Karan Brar, Robert Capron. Directed by David Bowers, from a screenplay by Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, based on a book by Jeff Kinney. 96 minutes. Rated PG for some mild rude humor and mischief. Several theaters.

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid," a clever comedy adapted from a novel by author Jeff Kinney for middle-school readers, was released almost exactly a year ago. Its equally entertaining but considerably different sequel, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," is based on another book in Kinney's series.

Since seeing the first "Diary," I've found myself still chuckling from time to time over a hilarious line reading in the film by Devon Bostick, a keep-your-eye-on-this-guy, very talented young actor who'd made a big impression as the lead in Atom Egoyan's 2008 "Adoration."

(For those who haven't seen "Diary," Bostick's line follows a politically correct scolding about his actions offending all women. Watch the DVD and have a laugh.)

Happily, Bostick is back in the sequel with a lot more screen time as Rodrick Heffley, the often-sadistic yet sympathetic older brother of the story's junior-high hero, Greg (Zachary Gordon). While much of the new story is focused, as in the 2010 feature, on Greg's troubles fitting in at school, the context now is his mutually miserable relationship with his sibling.

Actually, that relationship, though played broadly, has sprinklings of nuance, reflecting the way siblings often revolve through periods of feuding, closeness and seeming apathy.

In many ways, what works about "Rodrick Rules" is the reverse of the first film, which found the ethically challenged Greg willing to throw his geeky friends under the bus to improve his social status. He's still not perfect, but there's a little more stability in that department, shifting laughs to Greg's haplessness at a roller rink, a home for seniors and more.

Also different is an enhanced role for Steve Zahn as Greg's dad, and more complexity in Rachael Harris' performance as Greg's wound-up, strict mother. Robert Capron (Rowley) and local actor Karan Brar (Chirag) are terrific reprising their roles as Greg's posse.

Fans of Kinney's series know the books are meant to look like a kid's journal, complete with handwritten entries and stick-figure drawings. Director David Bowers ("Flushed Away") incorporates some of that look in delightful animated fashion.

Tom Keogh:

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