Rare is the road trip movie where everything goes right. What kind of movie would that be? Pack up the car, everything goes smoothly, arrive safely at destination. Roll end credits!
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” is the common type of road trip movie, the one where everything that can go wrong does go wrong. The spirit of the Griswold family hovers over this story of the Heffleys, a family — middle-schooler Greg (Jason Drucker), big brother Rodrick (Charlie Wright), mom (Alicia Silverstone), dad (Tom Everett Scott) and baby brother Manny (Wyatt and Dylan Walters) — heading on a 48-hour car ride to Indiana for grandma’s birthday.
Of course, the Griswold’s didn’t have iPhones to keep them distracted from one another, and mom wants to “kick it old school,” so she imposes a ban on all devices for the duration of the car ride. (It’s amusing to see Silverstone, the arbiter of ’90s cool in “Clueless,” become a middle-aged fuddy duddy.)
“The Long Haul” — the fourth “Wimpy Kid” movie, although the cast has been completely rebooted — doesn’t add much to the road trip genre, although kids will find something to relate to in Greg’s feelings of rejection and displacement. Early in the movie, he goes viral for an incident in which he becomes known as “Diaper Hands,” and even though the technology and speed of information has changed, the feelings of being a kid are still the same.
Director David Bowers, helming his third “Wimpy Kid” tale, could have focused more on those feelings, but he’s sticking to a formula here. And rocky though the road may be, he eventually arrives at his intended destination.
‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul’
Rated PG for some crude humor. Running time: 91 minutes