The Wimpy Movie

Noah and I just returned from the mile walk home from the movie theater, where I had to fulfill the holiday obligation of taking my son to one movie he wanted to see.

The choice: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the Movie.

I wanted to leave after the first 15 minutes. But I had to endure, at least for the sake of my son, who by the way found the movie disappointing.

Based on the popular kids books by Jeff Kinney, the Wimpy Kid tells the trials and tribulations of a boy traversing his middle school years. I remember middle school (in my day, Junior High) as difficult, and pivotal. But I cannot remember it ever being that tortuous. Having only glanced at the book once or twice, when asked to read from it, I do not recall the main character being such a hopeless victim all the time. The movie pushes this aspect all the way. The boy is a seriously flawed and hopeless character, with little ability to overcome just about any adversity. His brother is portrayed as an evil, unsympathetic and unloving sibling. His parents are oblivious to anything the boy is going through, and his friends are all dorks. Okay, that last bit may have been true. And all these elements conspire to force him to do a series of really stupid things. I had to keep hitting my head all the time to fend off the pain that was oozing off the screen.

My memory of Junior high is where I began to flex a little muscle. The anger that lied repressed beneath the surface of my skin, began to bubble over. My creative desires began to really express themselves. As I also began to grow in size, I was not that easy to mess with. If I was shunned in one circle, then I certainly found others where I would be accepted. 13 was a bitch, but it was out of that period that emerged the real me. That me is still here 40 somewhat years later.

Something always strikes me when I see these movies. Does anyone else notice what a cesspool of an environment public schooling is for our children. Do we really think that what we see up on the screen is an exaggeration? Teachers seem like unfulfilled buffoons who have no clue as to what children might be interested in, nor do they care. Parents throw their kids to these lions and then turn their backs hoping for the best. Somehow I think these films are desperately trying to tell us something. That for kids, school is a tortuous, unpleasant, at times frightening, anxiety producing and an oppressive environment. (Did I use enough adjectives?)

Fortunately, my son has a discerning eye. He has been exposed to all kinds of things. From the popular to the esoteric. He likes Harry Potter, Legos, Mario Bros, video games and ugly dolls. He has also enjoyed Jan Svankmajer, the Quay Brothers, Terry Gilliam, Russian animation and the art of Alex Ross. (you will have to look all of these up if you are interested.) He draws incessantly and is constantly developing his own stories and concepts.

So when a popular film tends to underwhelm him, there is a good reason. It is the basic fact that writers of films have very little respect for childrens’ ability to delve into their own souls. To explore creativity that opens the depths of their own self. It is insulting that media is so course and that it can only depict 2 dimensional characters.

Is this is a review? I do not recommend or pan anything. I think that if you have to see this movie, you are on your own, and you will find what you will find. I just had to get this out of my system. Somewhat like the junk food the theater sells at the counter. Fortunately, I did not consume any of that.


2 Comments on “The Wimpy Movie”

  1. Michael Wilder says:

    I sympathize with you. My experience with the media is that people are most often portrayed as either stupid, pathetic, violent or as some superhuman type hero. It wasn’t always this way. I remember being touched by some television shows such as Mash, My so called Life and Northern Exposure which did portray human dignity along with our failings.

    It is odd because people do seem to like film with meaning and dignity. For instance Avatar and the Hurt Locker and many kids are very into Harry Potter which also portrays courage and dignity.

    As for Public Schooling, the way schools are judged is not on how involved and interested the students are but on attendance, test scores, and graduation rates. I find that by High School( currently I am a high school guidance counselor) many kids are bored and or feel they are not smart. This along with what adolescents are going through biologically makes this period of their life very difficult if they don’t have other supports or adults encouraging them to follow their interests and exposing them to different types of learning.

    It is sad to see young people close up to their minds, feelings and bodies and difficult to re-engage them in a climate which is hostile to their development.

    That said there are many people(teachers, counselors and administration) doing wonderful work with our young people and working hard to keep them engaged, despite the strange ways of evaluating success. I believe these people also need to be encouraged as work with young people in that system can be very draining.

    Thank you bringing up this topic and getting that junk food out of your system.

  2. bzeines says:

    Thank you Michael for your response. It is good to know that there are still good, caring individuals in the school system. I am not so sure that the problem is that people don’t care. It may be that folks are so exhausted in general, that they have forgotten the essential nuances of standing under an open sky, and allowing that to be a learning experience.

    The school system as I see has gone on so long in a dysfunctional manor, that it may be beyond repair. A new model for teaching children to care for themselves and the environment they occupy is more what I am trying put forth on this blog. Our school was started by people who cared so much, they just could not let their children be subjected to the mental, emotional and physical abuse of public schooling. What I see in at Brooklyn Free School, is that miracles are possible. And full, caring human beings seem to emerge from this type of learning environment. And it is not dependent on class, economics or race. Everyone has an equal chance. And we invite even those in the public sector to take a serious look at us, and if they wish, an exchange of ideas can begin. And then maybe there is some hope for the future of education.

    As it exists now, institutionalized learning is nothing more than crowd control, with the retarded hope that something good may rise to the top. But what about all the others that call themselves “society?”

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