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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

By
Adam Shaw
Source: Catholic News Service


Zachary Gordon and Steve Zahn star in a scene from the movie "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days."
School's out, and the local country club is the focus of fun in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" (Fox 2000). This second sequel in the comedy franchise that started with 2010's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" is based, like its predecessors, on the "novels in cartoons" of Jeff Kinney.

Sourced from the third and fourth books in Kinney's series, Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky's screenplay provides a warm, kid-friendly outing that emphasizes the virtue of honesty and the importance of familial ties.

Zachary Gordon once again plays awkward preteen protagonist Greg Heffley. With summer just starting, Greg plans a housebound season of soda and video games. His dad, Frank (Steve Zahn), has different ideas, seeing the break from school as an opportunity for the two of them to bond through a long sequence of outdoor activities.

Greg initially evades this dread prospect by getting his loyal sidekick, Rowley (Robert Capron), to invite him to spend his days hanging out at the aforementioned club, where Rowley's parents are members. This ritzy destination is made doubly desirable by the fact that Greg's school crush, Holly (Peyton List), teaches tennis there.

When he and Rowley have a falling-out, however, Greg is left to rely on subterfuge to smuggle himself into the precincts of the one-percenters each day.

His deceitful scheme, needless to say, soon goes awry, thanks in part to his knuckleheaded older brother—and frequent nemesis—Rodrick (Devon Bostick). Rodrick exploits Greg's fibbing to worm his own way into the luxurious facility, with a gluttonous eye on smoothies and anything that involves bacon.

Increasingly ensnared by his own falsehoods, Greg scrambles to regain the affection of his true love and to rescue his friendship with Rowley as well as his relationship with his parents.

Greg's predicament allows director David Bowers to deliver a moving message amid the laughs, especially as father and son eventually reconcile to battle a common enemy—the outdoors.

Though it follows a predictable arc—and features such done-to-death gags as the diver who surfaces minus his swimsuit—"Dog Days" still makes for an enjoyable ride.

A touch of vaguely crass humor, such as the name of Rodrick's band, "Loded Diper," is also easily overlooked in favor of the generally amiable proceedings. So too is a locker-room scene in which a couple of portly men's towels ride down in the off-putting manner of the proverbial plumber.

Those in search of a screen adaptation that doesn't involve courtly vampires, Latin spells or children forced to fight to the death need look no further.

The film contains some mild scatological humor. 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.

*****
Adam Shaw is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service




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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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