- Runt: In 1996, Steve Zahn who plays father Frank Heffley, caught my attention in Tom Hanks’ That Thing You Do as Lenny Haise. The somewhat creepy yet fun Lenny had me in stitches. He delivers quick lines throughout the film that just crack me up every time. And in 2005’s Sahara, directed by Michael Eisner’s son Brock, I loved and wanted to see more of him as sidekick Al Giordino. Basically, if Steve Zahn is in a movie’s cast I am more likely to watch it. Sadly that rule honestly has led me to sit through some stinkers. One of my complaints with the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid was there was not enough Steve Zahn. Of you bring in Zahn to play the dad, we need more dad! Okay the story may not have supported that choice, but I was thrilled this third installment really is a father/ son story that requires a lot of Zahn on screen time. For Disney, Zahn voiced Runt of the Litter in Chicken Little, also in 2005. For me the most memorable line of the movie is Zahn delivering, “Just leave me some ammo, a little water, some chips if you have 'em.” Yes, Zahn you do know how to give classic lines that make you chuckle. Seriously, can we get The Santa Clause 4 with Zahn entering a quip war with Tim Allen?
- Wilderness Explorer: As Frank attempts to spend more time with Greg and get him away from video games, he signs Greg up for the Wilderness Explorers! Wait, is this Up? I had looked at the organization Wilderness Explorers as being a fictional Boy Scouts like group that only existed in the minds of Pixar. Here the Wilderness Explorers are used again as a fictional Boy Scouts like organization. I kept waiting for someone to yell, “The wilderness must be explorered!” But alas it never happened, and no one earned a badge for aiding the elderly.
- Oh Jesse: You just cannot escape the cast of Disney Channel’s Jesse in this film. Peyton List plays Holy Hills, Greg’s young love interest and generally nice young lady, especially when compared to her older sister. Karan Brar returns as Chirag Gupta, one of Greg’s classmates and friends. Sadly Brar’s performance is somewhat lost as roles for Zahn and others are expanded. But honestly the storyline within Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules where Greg leads his classmates to completely ignore Gupta is unforgettable. When those kids ignore someone they do it right! On Jesse, List plays the oldest Ross sibling Emma a young lady who is all about fashion. And Brar plays Ravi Ross, a very intelligent young boy much like Gupta, who is the third oldest of the Ross kids.
- It’s Nice to Be Nice: Zahn is not the only parent to get into the Disney film game. Rachel Harris who plays Little Women loving Susan Heffley is featured in one of my favorite movies of 2012 Wreck-It Ralph. She voices the Nicelander Deanna.
- I’m a Real Boy: About an hour into Dairy of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days it hit me. Greg is Pinocchio! Greg lies constantly. He does it to stay out of trouble. He lies to make situations more convenient for him. And Greg really is a horrible friend as his best friend Rowley should have learned in the original Dairy of a Wimpy Kid. His lies have legal, financial and physical consequences for others. Greg lies, lies, lies. Much like Pinocchio, Greg has to learn to tell the truth and take responsibility of his actions to receive the approval of his father. Yes kids, as Walt Disney taught us in 1940, lying does not make parents happy!
I have to admit. Greg cannot seem to learn. He is a really bad friend and he lies constantly, and has done so since the first movie. I wonder if a Pinocchio trilogy would still have him lying so much in the third film. The good news is the movie does provide a great opportunity to discuss the consequences of lying as we watch the wooden boy lie on screen, I mean Greg in this Mousey Movie.