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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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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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