I have to admit, I had not heard of the books (even though the first one came out in 2007) and my first introduction was the promo for the movie, and then a discussion on the Kidology Forum. Because the discussion was about whether it could be used in ministry, I decided to watch it and come to my own conclusion.
The theater was quite full with children and their parents and so I was pleased to see families together and not children just being dropped off.
I need to let you know that I am not a big movie guy and I went in with an objective, not seeking entertainment.
The movie is in a middle school, as the main character is learning his way around in this new environment and trying to gain popularity. One needs to keep that in mind as you watch the movie.
Overall, I found the movie entertaining. It is childish humor and the movie did garner several chuckles, even from me. Some people may think that some of the scenes are gross, as they deal with nose-picking and things of that nature. Again, keep in mind, it is “middle school” and younger humor.
Some may find some of the discussions inappropriate, but it is what you would find in a middle school setting. There is no outright profanity, just the “modified” like “geez, “crap”, etc.
The main character, Greg Heffley, is a middle child entering middle school. His older brother has several “issues” of his own and does not offer Greg much good wisdom about middle school and often threatens to kill Greg. His brother has a “girly” magazine under his bed which shows a bikini clad female on a motorcycle. The magazine is called “Moto Mamas”. It brings the point across without exposing much, and the confrontation with the mom near the end of the film re-enforces that there is more “negative” content in the magazine than the cover, though nothing is seen.
Greg is trying to fit in and be at the “top of the food chain” in middle school and so he does what he believes will get him there, but at every turn, it drops him further and further down the list. Whereas his friend Rawley begins to gain popularity.
See, where Greg is trying things to be popular, Rawley is just being himself and is also somewhat “abused” by Greg. Rawley’s parents think that Greg is a bad influence.
At one point, Rawley references someone’s comment about how they should respect their parents and follow their dreams, where Greg says “they must get beat up a lot” indicating that obeying parents is not a good thing to do.
Greg also mentions that the yearbook is like a bible as he tries to find ways to become popular.
Through the movie, Greg holds on to his friendship with Rawley even though he feels it is hurting him and does nothing to encourage Rawley. Greg does something that gets Rawley in serious trouble and after awhile, Greg confesses to Rawley which ends their friendship.
Greg did vaguely explain his predicament to his mother who gave him the following advice, “It’s our choices that make us who we are”.
Throughout the movie, we see Greg’s bad choices leading him in a downward spiral, whereas Rawley’s good choices and respect of authority, even when being disciplined for something he didn’t do, gets rewarded.
As I watched the film, the verse that came to me early on as I watched Greg trying to be popular and it failing was Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death”. Greg kept doing what he thought was right, but it kept leading to destruction. He was focused on himself, and not until he learned to make a sacrifice for Rawley did things turn around for him.
Near the end of the movie, one young lady makes the point that all of the things they think are important in middle school right now won’t mean anything in a few years.
So, what would I tell a parent who asked me about the movie? I would let them know that I would take my child to see the film with the following “disclaimers”. It is in a middle school setting and so some of the humor and discussions are “juvenile” but what one might see in middle school. There is also a Mother-Son dance where Rawley and his mom dance somewhat suggestively. I personally felt that the dance was inappropriate and not needed for the movie. Greg’s father is also portrayed to be less than competent, a growing trend in secular media. I would also encourage the parent to talk to their child and direct the scenarios in the movie toward the things of God.
- Our choices do shape who we are. The greatest choice we can make is to believe that Jesus died for our sins and to follow Him. Bad choices have negative consequences which may not occur right away, but will come.
- We should follow the path that God has for us and not try to do things on our own for popularity, for revenge, or because of peer pressure.
- We need to learn to serve others cheerfully. Greg did not have to take the blame for what Rawley did late in the film, but he “sacrificed” himself to regain a friendship. We could relate that to Jesus sacrificing Himself to have fellowship with us again. Just as Rawley accepted the sacrifice, we must accept that Jesus sacrificed Himself for us to regain that fellowship.
I would not show the film in a church setting, or take a group of children to see it in a theater, but I would feel comfortable talking to them about the film and directing them to Godly things.
It reminded me a little of the film To Save a Life which is set in a high school setting. The difference, To Save a Life was written by a youth pastor and has a powerful Christian message, whereas The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a secular film, but I believe it can be used to teach children about the things of God as it relates to them in their lives and I believe that everyone can relate to the characters, personally or knowing someone like them, which makes it more “real life” that can help make the connection.
It can be a good discussion starter for what they are going through in school, friendships and making good choices. Though the movie is not Christian in nature, it can be used to direct people toward God by relating real life and how God is needed in our life as we make choices.
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