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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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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