The wimpy kid legacy continues

Neha Seenarine, Associate Arts and Life Editor

Illustration by (Connor Lawless)

No matter how “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is adapted, Greg Heffley will always be the worst friend.

Disney+ released an animated adaptation of Jeff Kinney’s graphic novel “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” on Dec. 3. The animations are vibrant but the 2010 live-action is undefeated.

The novel was published in 2007 and although the target demographic is children, it still has a hold on me 14 years later. One of my guilty pleasure movies is the first live-action film. I remember watching the movie in elementary school, and I still put it on just to feel alive.

Also, I never got over my childhood crush on Devon Bostick’s portrayal of Rodrick Heffley, but that’s beside the point.

Typically a film goes from animation to live-action, but “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” flipped the script. It’s strange for me to see characters I’m familiar with go from actors to illustrations. We’ve seen examples like Disney turning the 1994 classic “The Lion King” into a live-action adaptation in 2019, managing to get Beyoncé on board.

Kinney had complete control over the new adaptation regarding character designs, writing the screenplay and running production. I can imagine that this film is exactly what he envisioned considering he is still cranking out “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books to this day.

This film was executed neatly. It was easy to tell the difference between Greg’s point of view and voice-over scenes that were cut to the illustrations in his diary. The film’s settings, like the Heffleys’ house and Westmore Middle School, looked somewhat realistic, and my eyes could not leave the high saturation from the screen.

The run-time was only 58 minutes. It felt more like a television special to me rather than a movie. The prominent plotline is focused around “the cheese touch.” Basically, if a student comes into contact with the icky slice of cheese during recess then they’re done for. I have no clue how swiss cheese doesn’t disintegrate in a school courtyard over the years, but more power to it.

It was disappointing to see my favorite scenes from the live-action cut in the animation. Patty Farrell having zero screen time in the recent adaptation was the biggest letdown. Patty is one of the main reasons why Heffley’s middle school experience is a living hell, especially during his school’s production of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” which was only mentioned rather than displayed. The best rock band of our time, Löded Diper, wasn’t acknowledged either. Also, the most iconic scene in the original film, when Rowley Jefferson ends his friendship with Greg, did not get its chance to shine. I still find myself quoting Greg every so often.

There is one thing that is consistent between the two films — Greg is despicable. He only cares about himself and will manipulate anyone around him to get what he wants. Greg’s big goal is to make a name for himself in middle school. He turns against Rowley and makes him feel like he’s not good enough to be his friend.

Greg doesn’t support Rowley’s interests like pitching “Zoo-Wee Mama!” to the school paper, and he wonders why Rowley’s father doesn’t like him. Rowley breaks his arm because of Heffley playing a dangerous game with a ball. Greg then becomes envious of Rowley when he attains the popularity that he has been yearning for. Greg doesn’t realize that being nice goes a long way rather than trying to redeem a greater social status.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” holds a place in my heart in any form of media. The animation adaptation is an easy watch, and I can imagine a new generation of children watching these beloved characters with their families. However, I prefer the 2010 live-action because of how the actors bring the characters to life, adding more dimension to the plot. I’m sure if Zachary Gordon didn’t do a great job portraying the 2010 Greg, I wouldn’t despise the character as much.