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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Grayson Russell, Zachary Gordon and Robert Capron star in a scene from the movie "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."
The social battlefield known as middle school provides the setting for the mostly likeable, though lightweight coming-of-age comedy "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (Fox). While the proceedings sometimes veer into mildly off-color humor, precluding endorsement for all ages, there are worthwhile lessons on offer here for teen viewers who may sympathize with the tale's flawed but good-hearted protagonist, Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon).

As recounted in the chronicle that gives the film its title—Greg is at pains to point out, in one of his characteristic asides to the audience, that he is keeping a "journal," not a "diary"—Greg is determined to transform his first year at his new school into an opportunity to win those most coveted of adolescent prizes, popularity and status.

Yet his efforts to impress are not only frequently—though unintentionally—sabotaged by the carefree nerdiness of his long-standing best friend Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron), but consistently ill-conceived on his own part as well. And, as Greg slips lower and lower in the lunchroom and recess pecking order, his home life is made miserable by the petty bullying of his cocky older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick).

In his desperate desire to be considered cool, Greg jettisons Rowley and makes a number of other misguided moves. But he eventually learns the value of loyalty, the rewards of self-sacrificing friendship and the importance of gaining genuine acceptance by being true to yourself.

Director Thor Freudenthal's adaptation of Jeff Kinney's best-selling 2007 novel in cartoon format does, however, include a running gag about a girlie magazine Roderick keeps hidden in his room, as well as a couple of brief joke about which students have "cute butts." Additionally, the script—penned by the husband-and-wife screenwriting team of Jackie and Jeff Filgo—makes it clear, albeit in a restrained way, that one of the hierarchical divisions separating the students is based on the rate of pubescent physical development.

The film contains brief images of a scantily clad woman, a few instances of mildly gross and scatological humor, a couple of vaguely sexual jokes and at least one crass term. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.



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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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