Diary of a Wimpy Kid is an adaptation of the best-selling book series by Jeff Kinney. The ‘wimpy kid’ is Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon), whose mother gives him the diary. She thinks it might be a good idea for Greg to record his feelings about his transition to middle school. Greg wants to be popular at middle school, but his older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) tells him to ‘just be invisible’. Also, Greg’s child-like and ‘uncool’ best friend, Rowley (Robert Capron), is a constant presence.
We get an insight into Greg’s thoughts as he desperately tries to work his way through the perils of pre-adolescence. Bullies, girls and social mistakes await him as he tries the wrestling team, the safety patrol and the school play while trying to climb the popularity ladder. But this all comes at a cost, eventually putting his friendship with Rowley at risk.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Bullying; life transitions; relationships; individuality versus ‘fitting in’
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
This movie contains some violence, some of which could be imitated by children. For example:
- There are cartoon scenes of a bully punching Greg.
- Rodrick pushes Greg and puts him in a headlock.
- School bullies knock books out of a younger student’s hands.
- School bullies take another student’s bag and hold it over his head.
- In a PE class at school, the teacher divides the class into two. One team is full of strapping, muscular boys, and the other has the smaller, shorter boys. They play a game called Gladiators. This involves the boys chasing each other, with lots of grabbing, pushing and tackling.
- Characters threaten each other with violence – ‘I’m going to kill you’, ‘I’m going to beat you up’.
- During a wrestling class, there is a montage of ‘professional’ wrestling. Then the students do their moves, which include head locks, pushing and so on.
- After having foam sprayed at them, Greg and Rowley are chased by older bullies in a truck. Greg and Rowley retaliate by holding a whipper snipper and air blower to ‘protect’ themselves. The older bullies tell them they ‘will rip off their arms and punch them in the face with their own fists’.
- Greg and Rowley play a game in which Rowley rides his bike and Greg tries to hit him with a football. Greg hits Rowley, causing him to fall off his bike and break his arm.
- Greg throws fruit at Patti at the school play. She throws fruit back and then runs and lunges at him.
- A mob of students urge Greg and Rowley to fight.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that might scare or disturb children under five. For example:
- Some very young children might find the cartoon depictions disturbing.
- Greg’s brother jumps out from behind a shower curtain, scaring Greg.
- Rodrick tells Greg and Rowley a story about ‘devil worshippers’ who are looking for children to eat.
- There are some scary jack-o-lanterns used at Halloween.
- There are spooky images and sounds in a dark forest.
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Children in this age group might be disturbed by the scenes of bullying.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
This movie contains some sexual references. For example:
- Greg’s older brother has a motorbike magazine with a picture of a woman dressed in a bikini. She is draped over a motorbike. His mother discusses this with him and the attitude to women it represents.
- Greg overhears girls say that another student has a ‘cute butt’. But he doesn’t know what that means.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
None of concern
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- There are no doors on the boys’ toilets, so we see boys going to the toilet. Nothing explicit is shown.
- Rodrick tries to scare Greg while Greg is going to the toilet. Greg wees on Rodrick.
- A bikini-clad girl in a magazine shows a lot of cleavage.
None of concern
This movie contains some coarse language and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is an entertaining and discussion-provoking look at children trying to survive the social minefield of high school. The movie is likely to appeal to children who have recently made, or are soon to make, the transition from primary to high school.
The main message from this movie is to be yourself. Rowley remains true to who he is, despite Greg trying to change him to fit in with the crowd. Rowley’s warmth and sincerity shine through. These qualities help him to become popular with his peers without him pretending to be someone else. Greg, on the other hand, tries desperately to fit in and be popular without success. He ends up almost losing his friend.
Values in this movie that you might want to reinforce with your children include:
- loyalty and friendship
- self-confidence and self-esteem
- willingness to try new things.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as bullying and its physical and emotional consequences. Lying is another issue you could discuss.