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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Robert Capron and Zachary Gordon star in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules."
Both sibling rivalry and brotherly love put in an appearance in the gently humorous sequel "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" (Fox).

Like its 2010 predecessor—called simply "Diary of a Wimpy Kid"—director David Bowers' comedy is adapted from one of Jeff Kinney's best-selling novels in cartoon format.

But this time the proceedings—which put their returning protagonist, hapless junior high school student Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon), through another series of embarrassing situations and useful learning moments—are delivered in an even more family-friendly package.

Having achieved the exalted status of seventh graders, Greg and his ever-present best friend, Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron), return to school expecting to put all humiliation behind them. Instead, after being smitten by her at first sight, Greg finds himself not only hopelessly tongue-tied but frequently made to look ridiculous in the presence of comely new classmate Holly Hills (Peyton List).

At home, meanwhile, Greg's older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick), continues to torment him with all manner of petty pranks.

Unhappy with this ongoing domestic conflict, mom Susan (Rachael Harris)—an advice columnist for the local paper whose articles rely heavily on her supposed expertise at parenting—tries to get her quarreling sons to bond. But her efforts have an unexpected outcome when aspiring rock drummer Rodrick goes from being Greg's bullying persecutor to a mildly bad influence on him.

It's characteristic of Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah's virtually unobjectionable script that the high jinks ensuing from the boys' newfound partnership are uniformly good-natured and almost unrealistically innocent. Thus they throw a party in their parents' absence that sees them engaged in such utter depravity as drinking an excess of soda and forming a coed conga line.

Scattered throughout this genial tale, however, are a few instances of childish scatological humor—Rodrick's band, for instance is called "Loded Diper"—that may raise a red flag for some parents.

One of these mars an otherwise welcome scene in which the family attends a Sunday church service. On the way to worship, Rodrick tricks Greg into sitting on a chocolate-covered candy bar, a stunt which results in an easily misinterpreted stain on the seat of the younger lad's trousers. Once inside, the congregation's frenzied reaction to this unsettling sight disrupts the solemn distribution of communion.

For the most part, though, Greg's tribulations are merely those that would try the soul of any 12-year-old, and he comes away—as youthful viewers are also clearly intended to—having gained new insights into the value of honesty, the importance of family bonds and the power of self-confidence.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. 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 Catholic News Service.

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James of the Marche: Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop! 
<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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