To be honest, I’ve always sort of liked the Diary of a Wimpy Kid film series, and I’m about to meet my thirtieth birthday. Truthfully, I can appreciate a good family comedy, and these always had to do with familial relationships and problems that kids experience, which is probably more important than you think. That being said, the fourth film in the franchise, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is the first film to completely change the actors due to age. So, at this point, does the franchise jump the shark, or does it still hold up enough? Let’s start with the plot.
A Heffley family road trip to attend Meemaw’s 90th birthday party goes hilariously off course thanks to Greg’s newest scheme to get to a video gaming convention. This family cross-country adventure turns into an experience the Heffleys will never forget. – Written by Twentieth Century Fox (IMDb)
Here’s what I noticed right off the bat, the people working on this film worked really hard to make sure the new cast looked like the same people in the first three pieces of the saga. They didn’t have to since the books are just full of stick figure people. So, the fact that they tried so hard to make them look like they fit in and were the same people was thoughtful, and I appreciate it. I do prefer the original cast, but this one still worked well together and told the story just as well. So no, I don’t really think any sharks were jumped this time.
Let’s dig deeper, though, and break down Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul to interpret the stars.
PEOPLE SCORE – 7/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 2|Casting – 1|Importance – 1|Chemistry – 2
First up is the people category, and even though it didn’t score a perfect ten, it still got an okay score for a kid’s film. The main points that stuck out for me were the characters and their chemistry together. Each family member is unique and distinguishable, as well as some other minor characters in the film – and as it is a family film, there’s a lot of chemistry between the family members, as there should be. Everything else could be better. The acting is what you expect from a kid’s film, mostly silly. How was the casting? Not bad for trying to imitate the actors from the first three films, but at the same time, I can’t say these are the only people that could play the part because I don’t think that’s possible anymore. As for everyone’s importance, I’d say that previous films had a better hold on independent importance from the characters. Even the brothers, who are usually against one another, both want to go to the expo, and the parents also blend together for the most part.
WRITING SCORE – 6/10
Dialogue – 1|Balance – 2|Story – 1|Originality – 1|Interesting – 1
Next up is the writing category, and as expected, it’s mostly so-so. While it is a very well-balanced film in general, nothing else stood out. Other than your typical “I learned my lesson” speech near the end, nothing stood out for the dialogue, not even when it tried to be with the use of “Diaper Hands”. How was the story? Well, it was mostly…fine? It had really good undertones about being unplugged and truly enjoying family time, but they didn’t show that enough importance to have a lasting effect for kids watching the film. Originality-wise, I gotta say, these movies really are starting to blend together, so only half points for this. As for being interesting? I would say I like the series fine enough, so I was interested in seeing this film – but that interest wasn’t super strong.
BTS SCORE – 6/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 2|Music – 1
A typical score for behind-the-scenes when it comes to both comedies and family/kids films. It basically means it’s not the best, nor did I really expect it to be. While it was as-advertised, nothing else stood out at all. The visuals were fine and typical, nothing was very challenging or difficult when it comes to the directing or editing, and the music was just fine enough to make sure the tone of the film was accurate, but no one will be buying the soundtrack.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 8/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 1|Falling Action – 1
The narrative arc category got an okay score. The areas in need of improvement were both the climax and falling action. As a comedic film full of physical humor, the climax was just more of the same, and it never really felt like a satisfactory culmination of everything else combined. The falling action calms things down, but there’s no real return to any new norm. Everything else worked well. The introduction introduced us to the characters as if we’ve never seen them before, the inciting incident is when the boys hear about the expo and plan to head that way against their parents’ wishes. The obstacles just come down to road trip hilarity.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 3/10
Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks you in – 0
How entertaining was Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul? Not very, at least not for an adult. I think as far as the entire franchise goes, you’ll have no problem rewatching it, but if it came down to only watching this installment, you’d have no problem skipping it. In general, I consider the film fun to watch, but little else. I don’t want to buy it, own it as a gift, talk about it with anyone that’s never seen it, and it never really sucked me in…it was just fun in parts. As far as entertainment goes, that’s it.
SPECIALTY SCORE – 45/50
Kids – 10|Family – 5|Comedy – 10|Franchise – 10|Halfway Decent – 10
Here are the five specialty questions that I wrote down before watching the film. How was this as a kid’s film? I think kids will definitely have a great time with the film, full points there. As a family flick, I think there were definitely bits and pieces in the film that adults can appreciate, but not nearly enough for adults to love it in any way – only half points for that. How was the comedy? Truthfully, I did laugh in a few parts, so I’ll at least say that gets full points. How does this fit in with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series? Honestly, pretty well. It was hard to tell the difference, even with the different cast. Full points for that. Last question, was it halfway decent? For sure. Full points there.