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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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Louis of France: At his coronation as king of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Other kings had done the same, of course. Louis was different in that he actually interpreted his kingly duties in the light of faith. After the violence of two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice. 
<p>He was crowned king at 12, at his father’s death. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled during his minority. When he was 19 and his bride 12, he was married to Marguerite of Provence. It was a loving marriage, though not without challenge. They had 11 children. </p><p>Louis “took the cross” for a Crusade when he was 30. His army seized Damietta ini Egypt but not long after, weakened by dysentery and without support, they were surrounded and captured. Louis obtained the release of the army by giving up the city of Damietta in addition to paying a ransom. He stayed in Syria four years. </p><p>He deserves credit for extending justice in civil administration. His regulations for royal officials became the first of a series of reform laws. He replaced trial by battle with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in court. </p><p>Louis was always respectful of the papacy, but defended royal interests against the popes and refused to acknowledge Innocent IV’s sentence against Emperor Frederick II. </p><p>Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and, like his patron St. Francis (October 4), caring even for people with leprosy. (He is one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order.) Louis united France—lords and townsfolk, peasants and priests and knights—by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years the nation was at peace. </p><p>Every day Louis had 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him, and a large number of poor were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were given a meal, and Louis often served them in person. He kept lists of needy people, whom he regularly relieved, in every province of his dominion. </p><p>Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, he led another crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. His crusade was diverted to Tunis for his brother’s sake. The army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog God passes through the thicket of the world, and wherever His glance falls He turns all things to beauty. <br />–St. John of the Cross

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