The clunky family movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid shares its title with a successful series of novels by Jeff Kinney, though the plot comes only from the first book. The wimpy kid in the title is Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon), an 11-year-old boy who arrives in middle school to discover that he’s one of the smallest kids there. To avoid being picked on, he undertakes several different plans to become one of the cool kids.
Greg’s adventures fall into a repeating pattern: His plans all blow up in his face while his best friend, Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron), falls ass-backwards into popularity despite being overweight, wearing the wrong clothes, and riding a girl’s bike to school. Too slow on the uptake to follow Greg’s misguided advice on how to improve one’s social standing, Rowley is fundamentally OK with who he is. Thankfully, the movie never spells out that this is what makes him cooler than our hero. It just shows us Rowley at a mother-son school function doing a blissfully unselfconscious choreographed dance number with his mom, while Greg is ready to die of embarrassment at being there with his own mother.