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Movie Review: ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul’ Proves Long and Wimpy

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Long Haul Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]iary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is such a foul miscalculation of kid-friendly entertainment that it begins with a warning. The Heffley family enters into a family-fun restaurant packed with screaming babies, disgusting food, filthy playground equipment and dirty diapers flung everywhere from plates to ball pits.

This is a world where the unlucky boy Greg Heffley (Jason Drucker) will accidentally stick his hand into a poopy diaper that he cannot remove. This triggers a reaction in all of the parents to laugh hysterically in a circle and film poor Greg’s natural reaction to having touched fecal matter, posting it to every social media stream as a mockery of a meme. This is the hell our protagonist lives in, a bitter world where everything is filthy, cliché and retweeted into a nihilistic oblivion where comedy comes to die.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Long Haul Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

How you should feel after watching ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.’

I’ve not seen a single Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, but, as the fourth entry of the series, I can only fathom this is the worst of introductions. It’s the old, familiar and tired genre of the family road trip movie where everything can go wrong. Greg’s family is heading across state for Grandma’s 90th birthday, but Greg has other plans. To clear his name of the Diaper Hands meme, Greg seeks the perceived viral cleansing of appearing in a YouTube video with his idol that will be appearing at a video game convention.

His idol is Mac Digby, a tubby e-celebrity famed for playing video games, celebrated by kids the country over for his annoying catchphrase “Digby Does It.” I expect kids would love something so absurd, but I had a little more faith in even the wimpiest of kids to not change the GPS coordinates and steer their parents towards a game convention over their grandma’s birthday.

Then again, Greg’s situation is understandable considering the insufferable people he shares the journey with. His mother Susan (Alicia Silverstone) is a woman overly obsessed with her kids eating healthy, learning Spanish and not using their smartphones to an unhealthy degree. Greg’s dad Frank (Tom Everett Scott) is so fearful of mom’s reign that he attempts to hide the old trope of trying to work while on the road. Greg’s brother Rodrick (Charlie Wright) is an obnoxious teenager, driven only by the prospect of babes, drums and money for his van. Greg’s baby brother Manny (Wyatt and Dylan Walters) is little more than a walking pile of toddler cuteness.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Long Haul Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Diary of a Wimpy Kid? More like Diary of an Awful Family.

These are all cartoon characters, fittingly portrayed as such in the illustrated bookended segments. The actors must be aware of such lacking characterizations based on their performances. Everyone speaks with a cringe-worthy acting style, where every teenager says “as if,” every father bumbles and every mother mispronounces Instagram.

The story plays out almost exactly as you’d expect, with all the typical gags telegraphed on cue. Frank says he needs quiet in the car while he takes a business call. This is code for everyone and everything to be as loud and distracting as possible, leading to the comedy of the car almost crashing. Greg has to pee after drinking too much lemonade from a plastic bottle and the next stop is 37 miles. It doesn’t take a genius to assume he’ll pee in that bottle and, yes, the bottle will indeed overflow. This bit was done better and with more of a payoff in Dumb and Dumber, but it’s not like kids have seen that movie. They apparently don’t deserve that level of comedy writing from this by-the-numbers story that treats them as stupid as its characters.

Related: Movie Review: ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ Is a Loud and Lumbering Blockbuster

This setup for humor creates a really depressing feeling when you know a very tasteless joke is on the horizon. In a scene at a county fair, Rodrick, ever the craver of junky food, scarfs down three or so orders of deep-fried butter on a stick. Why so many? Because if he didn’t eat that much, there wouldn’t be a scene where he goes on a ride and throws up. Not after he exits the ride, of course. He must puke in slow motion on the ride so that we can watch the detailed flow of partially digested food splatter in someone else’s face. I pray this is the only time I ever witness such a sight in a movie.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Long Haul Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

The pig is probably the cutest part of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.’

Now I’m not such a stuck-up critic that I can’t laugh at the sight of vomit, poop and urine, all present in this picture in various forms. I’ve had some big laughs in the past for movies that had all these elements. But bodily fluids are best used as decoration for a joke and not the punchline. The shot of slow-motion vomit doesn’t feel as though we’re laughing at Rodrick’s choice of food and entertainment; it’s intended for us to laugh at the vomit itself considering how much of it hogs the screen as it hurls towards the foreground. To be fair, the computer-generated vomit looks surprisingly real. I bought the special effect of puked-up butter more than I did Rodrick or any character being a real human being.

Read more for the rest of the movie review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul:

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.

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