"Diary of a Wimpy Kid" was directed by Thor Freudenthal ("Hotel for Dogs") based on the book by Jeff Kinney. Zachary Gordon plays Greg Heffley, a kid entering middle school for the first time with the company of his best friend, Rowley Jefferson played by Robert Capron. Greg becomes obsessed with the idea that he needs to do something notable to get into the "Class Favorites" section of the yearbook in order to make his mark and hit the big time, if it weren't for the dorkiness of his best friend holding him back.
Greg has the curse of being a middle child so he is largely ignored by his parents in favor of his younger brother still potty training and his older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick) takes great delight in torturing Greg giving him rules he must follow or suffer the consequences. Incidentally, a sequel is already in the works called "Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules." Instead of keeping his head down and getting through these difficulty years, Greg fights the laws of nature in his household becoming a burden to his family and often getting in trouble.
With the situations and the way they are presented, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" feels more like an extended TV show of something like "Malcolm in the Middle" instead of a feature film. It has an amusing way of blending in the stick figure illustrations from the book into the story to represent Greg's visualization of the up and down changes in social status he and his friends experience. Greg tries several tactics to get famous in his school that fail fantastically like joining the wrestling team, auditioning for the school play, and joining safety patrol. Many of his problems stem from his own ego which is immature and underdeveloped and often places the blame on his less than cool friend, Rowley instead of turning the focus on himself.
The only times "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" feels like a movie are when Chloe Moretz (Hit Girl from "Kick Ass" who plays Angie Steadman enters the scene. She towers over the boys in height and maturity about their current situation. She tries to impart her wisdom on them that none of what happens in middle school really matters in the grand scheme of things and that it is infinitely better to sit back and watch others make fools of themselves for popularity and comment on it in the school newspaper. Greg turns down her invitation to join the paper insisting it would be a conflict of interest since the paper will be too busy reporting on him (which it does...when he makes a fool of himself). Chloe Moretz has an amazing screen presence that is such a pleasure when she is there and the movie noticeably reverts back to that TV style format again when she is gone.
The take on middle school drama, social status concerns, and the influx of made-up rules that can make or break your popularity is very familiar and a good wake-up call to kids that age. For adults, it might be a little familiar or nostalgic but no longer as engaging a problem to relate to. Director Thor Freudenthal's style is very much for kids and young families and in reaching that target demographic, it succeeds. It doesn't quite hit that sweet spot where it can be appealing to kids and adults simultaneously like "A Christmas Story" though it tries very hard.
There is full-length commentary by Director Thor Freudenthal and Writer Gabe Sachs where they go into detail about what was and wasn't in the book, what monologue was used to audition for the lead and how they picked Zachary Gordon. The Angie Steadman character played by Chloe Moretz was not in the original source material, but was added because there were all these diverse guy characters and no girls to even it out, like they were an alien species so bringing one into the mix clearly helped the movie.
There are 10 deleted scenes/diary pages consist of many more scenes with the scary ginger kid, Fregley and mostly consist of helpful how-to's and antidotes about the supporting cast characters.