Creatively Bankrupt?
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Whereas the first film was too uneven, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is a bit better. At heart, I am a 13-year old boy so it’s not surprising that I laughed throughout the film. In this turn, Greg is forced to spend time with his mean older brother, Rodrick, but end up bonding a bit in the process. I liked it but it’s definitely for a younger audience.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules opened on March 25, 2011, and earned more than $52 million over 16 weeks (nearly $20 million more came from foreign receipts). The film’s budget was $21 million. The success of this sequel spawned a third, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, which opened on August 3, 2012.

2.5 out of 4 stars.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)

Once again, a sequel rears its head and once again, I review the preceding film. In this case, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is based on the highly successful series of children’s books. The cartoon art on notebook paper reminds me a lot of Big Nate, one of my all-time favorite newspaper comic strips. There are a lot of laughs to be had watching Greg’s initial weeks in middle school but Greg turns out to be a bit of a jerk in his quest for popularity. Deservedly, his attempts to put down his friends to make himself look better result in defeat and humiliation. The ending is too quick and too pat to satisfactorily conclude the story.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid opened on March 19, 2010, and earned $64 million over 22 weeks (an additional $11 million was earned in foreign receipts). The film’s budget was $15 million.

2 out of 4 stars.


I have to admit that I was not looking forward to screening Paul. While I adore Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (both from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), I am not a fan of Seth Rogen and I was afraid this film would paint folks who enjoy sci-fi as pathetic nerds (see Fanboys, starring Dan Fogler). Thankfully, the film was a joy from start to finish. Rogen is the voice of the titular alien character and is actually restrained in his role. There is a little bit of eye rolling from the sledgehammered winks to the audience  but thankfully, these moments are brief and spaced out (pardon the pun) to prevent it from becoming obnoxious. It was a lot of fun watching Paul and I recommend it highly for the geek crowd.

Paul initially premiered in the United Kingdom on February 14, 2011 and opened in the U.S. on March 18, 2011. The film earned $37 million from American audiences over 9 weeks and an additional $60 million from foreign receipts. Paul’s budget was $40 million.

3.5 out of 4 stars.

Win Win

Win Win is a welcome anomaly in this film project. I appreciate any film that goes against the grain of having a tidy ending. Paul Giammati once again proves he’s an amazing actor and while this film allows him to shine, he’s joined by a cast that is no less than awesome—there’s not a single weak link in this chain. Giammati plays a struggling small-town lawyer while moonlighting as a part-time high school wrestling coach. He agrees to become the guardian to one of his elderly clients strictly for the retainer fee but the situation becomes very complicated very quickly. It’s a very good film that I recommend highly, but only if you can handle tough endings.

Win Win originally premiered January 21, 2011, as part of the Sundance Film Festival. As a Fox Searchlight release, it opened March 18 and remained in limited release throughout its run. The film earned $10 million over 18 weeks (no budget information available).

4 out of 4 stars.

The idea and execution of this blog is fantastic!

Thanks! Sorry it took so long for me to answer. Still getting the hang of Tumblr.

You gave Limitless a higher rating than Jane Eyre?! JUDGING! Also, how have you never had to read Jane? I mean, come on. It had to have been assigned in your English class or something. Hell, I've read it twice and I hate the guy she falls for...but damn if it isn't beautifully written!

I’m just not a big fan of Victorian dramas. As I noted in the review, it was well acted and it didn’t put me to sleep. Limitless just appealed to me more.

I’m not sure how I managed to get through an English Lit course without reading either Bronte sister. Read a lot of Dickens and Chaucer but no Brontes.


The premise of Limitless involves a hapless hack writer who comes across a wonder drug that unlocks his mind’s full potential. The story that ensues is a good one and I’d rather not discuss the story too much as it’s easily spoiled. Lots of interesting visual effects and the cast is terrific. 

Limitless opened on March 18, 2012, and earned $79 million over 16 weeks in the U.S. (over $82 million in foreign ticket sales). The budget was $27 million.

3.5 out of 4 stars.

Jane Eyre

One thing you can count on to appear at least once a decade is an adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre. There have been at least 20 English-language productions based on the book. I won’t be watching any of the other versions for this project but I will comment briefly on this film.

I never read the novel so the story was new to me. As far as these things go, it wasn’t bad. My viewing companion was a big fan of the novel and remarked that some of the details had been moved around but still enjoyed the film. There was lots of lofty dialogue that I presume was taken out of the book but the acting and production values were top notch for this British production. Normally, Victorian-era productions put me to sleep but this one didn’t. 

Jane Eyre opened on March 11, 2011, and its widest release at any one time was 319 theaters. The film earned $11 million over 18 weeks in the US, with an additional $23 million from foreign audiences (primarily British).

2.5 out of 4 stars.

Red Riding Hood

We return to adaptations with Red Riding Hood, loosely based on the Little Red Riding Hood we all grew up with. In this case, the titular character is central to a story about a werewolf that terrorizes a European village. We’re treated to Twilight-esque complications involving an arranged marriage, a draconian warrior priest with a personal score to settle, and every cliche you’ve ever seen at a Renaissance Fair proudly displayed out in the open. While it was enjoyable watching Gary Oldman chewing scenery, most of the other cast was wasted (particularly Virginia Madsen, Michael Shanks, and Michael Hogan). I appreciated the story adopting a werewolf as the villain but the story is told at a glacial pace and it doesn’t help that the very pretty leads can’t carry the film.

Red Riding Hood opened on March 11, 2012, and earned $89 million over 11 weeks ($51 million of the take was foreign). The budget was $42 million.

1.5 out of 4 stars.

Battle of Los Angeles

Battle of Los Angeles is a knock-off film (sometimes called a “mockbuster”) that was deliberately designed to coincide with Battle: Los Angeles. This low-budget oddity is rather indicative of The Asylum’s level of quality (they’re responsible for most of the banal fare populating Saturday nights on the SyFy channel).

While it isn’t a direct rip-off of Battle: Los Angeles, the plot does revolve around an alien invasion. This invasion happens to be a second wave—the first arrived in 1942 (the so-called “Battle of Los Angeles” that UFO enthusiasts trumpet as an alien attack but was just a false alarm). Sprinkled into the group of badly written Air Force pilots are a time-traveling Air Corps pilot from 1942 and the secret government organization known as MJ-12 (whom UFO enthusiasts claim harbor aliens in the here and now). It’s pretty much a paint-by-numbers plot that is a chore to watch. The acting is so-so, the optical effects are what you’d find on TV in 1996, and the story unfolds at a snail’s pace. I don’t even recommend this as a rental.

Battle of Los Angeles premiered on the SyFy channel on March 12, 2011 and was released on DVD the following Tuesday.

1 out of 4 stars.