The expectations for the third installment of the Wimpy Kid franchise aren't high. But the same could have been said about last year's sequel, Rodrick Rules, which, to everyone's surprise turned up at the top of the box office. Like its two predecessors, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days is receiving several decent reviews. But mostly it's being ignored by many critics who presumably figure that everybody will either be watching the Olympics or The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. The Boston Globe , whose film critic Tom Russo called Rodrick Rules "all good fun for the kids," did not send anyone to review this installment. Instead, it's running a review by Michael Rechtshaffen of the Hollywood Reporter , which in turn is being distributed by the Associated Press, whose own critic did not review the movie. The new film, writes Rechtshaffen, "proves nimbler and truer to its origins [a book series by Jeff Kinney] than last year's Rodrick Rules ." That's not the way most critics see it. Stephanie Zacharek of the Los Angeles Times enjoyed the first two Wimpy Kid films, but this one, she says, "ends the series' winning streak, or at least slows it down to a panting, dog-day crawl." No critic comes down hard on the film -- possibly because it refrains from some of the crassness of other films in its genre. The shenanigans that the kids in this film get into, writes Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News , are "refreshingly banal." Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune acknowledges that kids are going to go see the film regardless of their weaknesses, "But it's too bad these movies aren't livelier." Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel describes the film's comedy as "slapstick stuff, mostly. And for parents and their tweens, that's enough to keep this, the kid-friendliest film franchise of them all, from being a disappointment." And Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times also hasn't a harsh thing to say about the movie, calling it "good-natured if not very ambitious."

03/08/2012