So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us
speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are
members of one another.
You know something is not right when the cartoons accompanying the front and end titles are more entertaining than what transpires in between. In this third film based on Jeff Kinney’s popular juvenile novels, the plot in volves the lie spun by the supposed hero Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) that he has obtained a job at a snobbish country club. The lie is to get him out of the summer job proposed by his father Frank (Steve Zahn), who wants to wean his son away from the video game that the nerd had hoped would occupy his every waking moment during the long vacation between classes at his boring middle school.
When Greg’s best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) had invited him for a day at the country club, Greg discovered that fellow student Holly (Peyton List) is also a member. For most of the summer he lives the double lie—making the check-in lady at the club’s reception desk think he is a member, and his parents believe that he is a paid staff member. (This must make them the most stupid parents in town—where is the paper work required by a youth for summer employment, as well as where are his wages?) Anyway, slobbish brother Roderick (Devon Bostick), when he discovers that Greg is posing as a club member, forces him to bring him into the club so that he can scope the bathing beauties. A series of mishaps culminate in a disastrous gig of Roderick’s obnoxiously named garage band.
There are worse movies one could subject the family to this summer, and there is even one sequence which raises the movie to a tolerable level, the one in which Frank deals with Greg after the boy’s lie about his job is exposed. Frank reacts differently from what the fearful son expects, and it is this way which changed my mind about the man’s stupidity. The touching scene is like an oasis in an otherwise desert of a movie.
1. What do you think of the way that family conflict is handled in this series? Do you think that the extreme way in which Roderick and some of the action is portrayed can be attributed to the fact that this is supposedly young Greg’s diary?
2. What do you think of the casual way in which both sons resort to lying to get out of unwanted situations? How does one lie lead to another?
3. Make a list of the various times in the film in which Greg or someone else lies.
4. How have you felt when you were lied to at some point in your life? What does this do to mutual trust?
5. How is lying an integral part of our culture? In advertising; social intercourse; in politics?
6. What do you think of the way in which Frank deals with his son’s behavior when he discovers the truth? How is this more effective than doing what Greg thought he would do?