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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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Hilary of Arles: It’s been said that youth is wasted on the young. In some ways, that was true for today’s saint. 
<p>Born in France in the early fifth century, Hilary came from an aristocratic family. In the course of his education he encountered his relative, Honoratus, who encouraged the young man to join him in the monastic life. Hilary did so. He continued to follow in the footsteps of Honoratus as bishop. Hilary was only 29 when he was chosen bishop of Arles. </p><p>The new, youthful bishop undertook the role with confidence. He did manual labor to earn money for the poor. He sold sacred vessels to ransom captives. He became a magnificent orator. He traveled everywhere on foot, always wearing simple clothing. </p><p>That was the bright side. Hilary encountered difficulty in his relationships with other bishops over whom he had some jurisdiction. He unilaterally deposed one bishop. He selected another bishop to replace one who was very ill–but, to complicate matters, did not die! Pope St. Leo the Great kept Hilary a bishop but stripped him of some of his powers. </p><p>Hilary died at 49. He was a man of talent and piety who, in due time, had learned how to be a bishop.</p> American Catholic Blog True freedom lies in the ability to align one’s actions freely with the truth, so as to achieve authentic human happiness both now and in the life to come. Jesus promised, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31–32).

The Passion and the Cross Ronald Rolheiser

 
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