The critics generally agree that the film, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules, is a disappointment. Mind you, it’s currently number one at the box office. The popular book series and first film that grossed over $62 million in 2010 vitually assured an audience for a sequel. To short-hand the franchise: funny books; lame movies. And the most-repeated criticisms of the movies—they lack dramatic arcs, they’re too episodic—are not problems at all … if you’re a book. At best, Rodrick Rules is so-so. You want it? Grab it.
My beef is that something precious is lost in the translation from these books to movies. And that something is a stick figure; to be specific, the supposed-to-be-kid-drawn illustrations from the book series.
Nothing against child actor Zachary Gordon; I wish him success. I just wish it wasn’t at the expense of the expansive, clever, drawn figure millions have come to know and care about.
What’s wrong with a story living exclusively on the pages of a book? The illustrated Greg is every kid but Zachary Gordon’s Greg is specific and fixed forever as a particular living kid. And that weakens the impact and accessibility of the Wimpy Kid stories.
I know—there have been countless (and I mean countless) instances of drawn characters successfully translating to live-action cinema. But Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Ironman—I’m at risk of carpal tunnel here—and the X-Men are realistically drawn with human proportions; and a lot of the panels from their comics bear a striking resemblance to cinema story boards.
Movies aren’t better. They’re just different. Many adaptations from book to film only exist to milk a cash cow. Since nobody else is defending the identity of these drawn figures, I’ve taken the cause upon myself.