Greg (Zachary Gordon) realizes that his plans for theatrical stardom didn't exactly pan out. (Rob McEwan)
The problem with "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" is the wimpy kid is a jerk.
He repeatedly abuses his best friend, lies, blithely abandons a group of small children and attempts all sorts of desperate and dishonest ploys in the name of becoming "popular."
Of course, he has his moment of redemption and revelation, but that doesn't come until the very end of the movie. By that time, he has built up an obnoxious track record that's hard to forgive.
Based on a popular series of books that probably gets to those redemptive moments a lot faster, "Wimpy" does do a good job of describing the many terrors of being a middle-school dork -- bullies and mean big brothers and cliques and the inevitable battle for social acceptance, all heightened by adolescent angst.
But man, this kid is unlikable. That would be Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon), a dink of a fellow with a rotund and happily clueless best friend named Rowley (Robert Capron), entering middle school with the express intent of becoming the most popular kid around.
Unfortunately, he has no particular skills or talent and reeks of insincerity. He tries out for the wrestling team and initially gets beat by the smallest kid in the school, and then follows that by losing to a girl. Meanwhile Rowley, not trying to be popular at all, unintentionally climbs the social ladder by just being himself.
Yes, there's a lesson there, but it seems like Greg should learn it much more quickly and then go about winning over the audience. Instead, his behavior becomes increasingly odious. "Diary of a Rotten Kid" is more like it.