Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Based on a series of novels by Jeff Kinney the ‘Wimpy Kid’ movies have been hit and miss.  Fortunately for the author they haven’t been so bad as to harm book sales.  Given this third entry is much better than the abysmal second he should feel professionally satisfied.  Not that it improves on the good first outing, ‘Dog Days’ at least has a more coherent story on which to hang its adolescent antics.


Greg (Zachary Gordon) looks forward to a stress-free summer.  Sadly this never eventuates due to his older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) and best friend Rowley (Robert Capron).  With them around he has a difficult time catching the attention of Holly (Peyton List) a fellow class-mate.  Whilst dealing with this dilemma his father threatens to send him to a strict school and also buys him a new dog.  With so many things circling his orbit, Greg has his work cut out to survive the holidays in one piece.


The ‘Diary’ movies are meant to provide diverting entertainment for the pre-teen market.  Mostly this latest chapter succeeds with David Bowers’ direction conjuring an amiable outing.  Its best asset is its mixing of various themes amongst the mayhem.  Issues of responsibility, relating to others and growing up are effectively shown without being too preachy.  How they are mixed with the comedy and drama is one of the series’ interesting aspects which ‘Dogs Days’ does well.


Adding to the fun is a fine cast comfortably embodying their characters.  Gordon makes for a likeable lead with his character’s unique world-view well conveyed.  His interaction with the strange group of people he meets is consistently amusing and no matter how outlandish some sequences may seem, his performance brings genuine believability.   He is well served by a fairly decent script mostly avoiding the episodic nature ruining the last film with its quirky humour still intact.


Apparently this is the final movie in the series which is a shame as ‘Dog Days’ corrects many of the second’s mistakes.  The series goes out on a high however with the original author’s words successfully transported from page to screen.


Rating out of 10:  7


Movies featuring great white sharks are forever compared to ‘Jaws’.  Such is the power of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic anything following would be examined under its shadow.  ‘Bait’ gamely treads this path by giving a new twist to the formula.  Made at Australia’s Gold Coast, the locations are suitably lush and the acting is reasonable.  It’s the shark and horror everyone wants to see however with the nautical beastie wreaking chaos that would make ‘Jaws’s toothy shark proud.


After a Tsunami hits a coastal town its inhabitants are left shell-shocked.  None more so than a group of people trapped in a supermarket filled with rising water.  Among them are Josh (Xavier Samuel), Tina (Sharni Vinson) and Kyle (Lincoln Lewis).  Battling against the elements they are further stunned when a massive Great White Shark enters the fray.  Terrified by this new addition their day becomes worse with their survival instincts the only thing saving them from certain death.


Directed with some creative flair by Kimble Rendall, ‘Bait’ is an exercise in pure exploitation.  There’s a certain market for such a genre film who will no doubt view this with eagerness.  It provides the exact amount of scare and gore one expects.  Mixed in with the confines of the supermarket’s enclosed interior, it shows how some human characters can be just as shocking as those from the depths.  These elements could have worked had the script not been so clichéd but generally succeeds as a scare-fest.


The ‘fun’ in such a production is guessing who survives with which ‘Bait’ effectively plays.  That matches its ghoulish nature with the special effects and make-up going into over-drive.  Much like some of the performances these sequences are hit and miss with some very poor moments descending the plot into sheer ridiculousness.  Thankfully Rendall is careful not to slide the B-Grade material too much into hammy camp as the story creaks towards an explosive finale.


‘Bait’ doesn’t pretend to be the greatest Aussie movie made but is a decent shocker.  It’s perfectly fine for what it is even if it doesn’t enhance the Great White Shark’s reputation any further than Jaws did decades ago.


Rating out of 10:  6