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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

By
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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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire, therefore, 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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