Hot Take: It’s a less charming, PG version of Vacation… and I’m referring to the awful remake from a couple of years ago.
In 2015, Hollywood made a huge mistake by trying to remake Vacation. The Chevy Chase vehicle didn’t need an update as the classic still worked all by itself. Seeking a cash grab, that didn’t stop the filmmakers from adding a bunch of gross out humor and other unfunny material into the equation. Luckily, audiences didn’t take the bait and the film grossed only $59 million which was $2 million less than the original which released 32 years earlier. What does any of this have to do with the latest installment in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise, you might ask? Well, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is what would happen if you toss the remake of Vacation into a blender with its own formula and took out anything that would score an R rating. If someone pours you a cup, don’t taste it!
Featuring an all new cast, the fourth Diary of a Wimpy Kid film has almost none of the charm of the original three films. The casting resembles when a movie is so successful someone decides it might make sense to throw it on television as a weekly episodic show. All of the characters are there in name but there’s something different enough about them that they don’t feel quite the same as the original. Jason Drucker replaces Zachary Gordon as Greg Heffley. The parents are now played by Tom Everett Scott and Alicia Silverstone who replace Steve Zahn and Rachael Harris. Charlie Wright as Rodrick might be the only replacement that is equal to his counterpart. They even replaced the twins who played Manny Heffley with new twins as Wyatt and Dylan Walters step into the role of the youngest Heffley family member.
Other than the complete casting overhaul, the movie also decided to remove all of the charm and fun from the original films and replace it with mostly unfunny bits focused around technology and music and other things that cause a generational gap between parents and kids. What is especially odd about this franchise’s latest is that typically franchises grow with their audience yet this movie feels like it heavily targets the 8-and-under crowd and the original came out in 2010. There’s nothing in the movie for adults who will likely be asking themselves, “Are we there yet?” as this road trip from hell flick takes its sweet time getting to the final act. (I don’t believe the run time of 90 minutes because it felt like I was in the theater for days.)
Even the most diehard fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid will likely be disappointed in the latest movie. It is a complete misfire that erroneously misses the mark by trying to plug and play the Heffley family into the role of the Griswalds without the luxury of R rated material or anything fresh to replace it with. If you happen to come across Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, do yourself and everyone a favor by ripping out these pages and burning them. You’ll thank me later.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
Wyatt and Dylan Walters play the youngest Heffley and account for the best moments in the film. This includes his heartwarming relationship with a pig he won at a County Fair on one of the family’s stops on the road trip.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- A Limited Role for Rowley
One of the better characters of the first three films is Greg’s best friend Rowley who is limited to a much smaller role in the latest since it’s a family road trip and somehow Greg didn’t whine his way into bringing Rowley along for the ride.
- The Long Haul Runs Out of Gas Early
The youth-oriented flick feels less funny as it progresses which could spell trouble for adults with kids with short attention spans who might bail out on this one before it reaches its destination.
- Is Defecation and CGI Vomit Your Idea of Funny?
There’s plenty of that in this forgettable flick.