Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
- Matthew Turner
- 22 May 2017
The moderately amusing fourth film in the franchise mixes things up with a road trip and new cast
Faced with the issue of how to continue the series when the two main actors are now too old for their roles, the makers of the Wimpy Kid movies – based on Jeff Kinney's hugely popular books – have opted for a completely new cast for the fourth film in the franchise. The transition is practically seamless, thanks to the presence of returning director David Bowers, though fans will likely lament the loss of the previous films' MVP Devon Bostick, in the role of wimpy kid Greg's dim-witted older brother Rodrick.
Based on the ninth book in the series, The Long Haul shakes things up a bit by effectively becoming a road movie, with the Heffley family embarking on a two-day journey in order to attend a family birthday party. Along the way, Greg (Jason Drucker) and Rodrick (now Charlie Wright) scheme to divert the trip so they can swing by a video gaming convention, with the aim of meeting YouTube idol Mac Digby (Joshua Hoover). Meanwhile, their mum Susan (Alicia Silverstone) instigates a ban on all electronic devices for the duration, which causes problems for husband Frank (Tom Everett Scott).
The cast deliver likeable performances (although, like his predecessor Zachary Gordon, Drucker could maybe stand to be a little wimpier) and Bowers keeps things moving at a decent pace throughout. There's the occasional flash of inspiration, most memorably a note-perfect pastiche of the shower scene in Psycho and a nicely staged family bonding sequence where the Heffleys sing along to the Spice Girls' 'Wannabe'. As with the previous films, the humour is largely of the slapstick / bodily function variety; despite the best efforts of everyone involved, the various set-pieces (including an accidentally acquired piglet defecating in the car) never manage to deliver any big laughs and have to settle for being moderately amusing instead.
General release from Fri 26 May.