½★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
I don't understand how films like this can be made anymore. Films like this have terrible plots, narratives, & screenplays, awful direction, bad acting, & no technical ambiance whatsoever.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul certainly has all of the aforementioned qualities. Based on the ninth book of Jeff Kinney's long-running book series that has long overstayed its welcome, & is the fourth film of the series that has now rebooted with an all-new cast, this film once again focuses on Greg Heffley (now played by Jason Drucker), who is trying to have the perfect summer: hanging out indoors playing video games, mainly with his friend Rowley Jefferson (now played by Owen Asztalos). However, at a Chuck E. Cheese-esque place, Greg is reminded by his parents, Susan (now played by Alicia Silverstone) & Frank (now played by Tom Everett Scott) of a family road trip to his Meemaw's house for her 90th birthday, which is absolutely met with a negative response (just like this film!) by Greg & his older brother, Rodrick (now played by Charlie Wright). But before then, Greg becomes a meme named Diaper Hands after trying to get his younger brother, Manny (now played by Wyatt & Dylan Walters) out of a playscape & ending up in a ball pit with a diaper on his hands, with a number of people taking videos & pictures of him.
Honestly, this is when I realized the film would be absolutely awful. Not only would it resort to such juvenile humor like this, but also, it doesn't get how a meme is created. This would be too awful to be a popular meme.
On the way to Meemaw's house, Susan takes away everybody's phones & tablets, stating that she wants an electronic-free road trip, a wish that is repeated at least 20 times during the film's 90-minute runtime, 5 of which are devoted to the beginning & end credits (so 85 minutes for the actual film), for an unbearable average of one instance every 4 minutes & 15 seconds. Along the way, Greg becomes happy that he's going on the trip, mainly because his idol, Mac Digby (played by Joshua Hoover), a PewDiePie-esque person, whom Susan thinks is a bad influence, will be at a gaming expo in Indianapolis, not far from Meemaw's house. Greg decides to go there & get in a video with Mac Digby so he can be rid of Diaper Hands.
Along the way, the Heffleys become involved in absolutely stupid encounters, including a family that is absolutely gross & creepy, a pig won by Manny at a fair in a town that is filled with people that would have easily fit in the 1972 film Deliverance, & an absolutely predictable incident involving seagulls, an open sunroof, & a snack food.
This film is just absolutely awful. The film was criticized before the film came out for its casting of Charlie Wright as Rodrick Heffley, as he didn't look like he could be biologically related to the Heffleys at all. It even spawned the social media hashtag, #NotMyRodrick (which he isn't). And that's not the only thing he should be criticized for. His performance manages to be the worst performance in a film literally showered with awful performances throughout.
David Bowers, who directed the second & third films in the Wimpy Kid film series, shows that he has no business being behind the camera, as he basically has no cinematic vision beyond juvenile humor & absurd situations.
Bowers also has no business writing a script as well, as he co-wrote the script with Jeff Kinney, the aforementioned author of the Wimpy Kid novels. The script does not want to make us root for the protagonist & his family, & the script does not develop them into realistic, 3-dimensional characters. They are basically shells of a character who go through no arc whatsoever.
This isn't the worst film of all time, or even the worst film of the year, but it's definitely close to it. If you have to choose between this & another film, always choose the other film. Most likely, if you're a parent, even your kids will end up hating this film as much as you will end up hating it. Avoid this at all costs.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul was seen by me at the MJR Universal Grand Cinema 16 in Warren, MI on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. It is no longer in theaters in the Detroit area. Its runtime is 90 minutes, & it is rated PG for some rude humor.