Australian Council on Children and the Media

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Theme and scenes of bullying, Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • a review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 September 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to disturbing scenes and coarse language
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and scenes of bullying and coarse language.
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Infrequent coarse language
Length 92 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is an adaptation of the best selling book series by Jeff Kinney. The author of the diary, Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) has been given the book by his mother to record his feelings about his transition to middle school. Unhelpful advice from his older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) to ‘just be invisible’ and the presence of his child-like and ‘uncool’ best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) do not affect Greg’s overconfidence in attempting to conquer the popularity stakes. The audience gets an insight into Greg’s thoughts as he desperately tries to manoeuvre through the perils of pre pubescence. Bullies, girls and social faux pas await Greg as he dabbles in the wrestling team, the safety patrol and participation in the school play while trying to climb the popularity ladder. But this all comes at a cost…..eventually putting his friendship with Rowley at risk. 

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Bullying, life transitions, relationships; individuality versus ‘fitting in’

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is violence in this movie, some of which may be imitated by children. Examples include:

  • Cartoon depictions of a bully punching Greg
  • Rodrick pushes Greg and puts him in a headlock
  • School bullies knock books out of a younger student’s hands
  • School bullies take another student’s bag and hold it over his head
  • In a PE class at school, the teacher divides the class into two – one team is full of strapping, muscular boys and the other; smaller, shorter boys. They play a game called ‘Gladiators’ which involves the boys chasing each other, lots of grabbing, pushing and tackling.
  • Threats of violence: “I’m going to kill you”, “I’m going to beat you up…”
  • During a wrestling class, we see a montage of ‘professional’ wrestling and then moves between the students – head locks, pushing to the ground etc.
  • After having foam sprayed at them, Greg and Rowley are chased by older bullies in their truck. They retaliate by holding a whipper snipper and air blower to ‘protect’ them.
  • The older bullies tell them they “will rip off their arms and punch them in the face with their own fists”
  • Greg and Rowley play a game where Rowley rides his bike and Greg tries to hit him with a football. Greg hits Rowley, causing him to fall off his bike and break his arm.
  • Greg throws fruit at Patti at the school play. She retaliates and throws fruit back and then runs and lunges at him in order to fight him
  • a mob of students urge Greg and Rowley to fight.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

Some very young children may find the cartoon depictions disturbing.

Greg’s brother jumps out from behind a shower curtain, scaring Greg.

Rodrick tells Greg and Rowley a story about ‘devil worshippers’ who are looking for children to eat

Scary looking jack-o-lanterns at Halloween

Images and spooky sounds in a dark forest

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may be disturbed by the scenes of bullying.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Greg’s older brother has a motorbike magazine with a picture of a woman dressed in a bikini draped over a motorbike. His mother discusses this with him and the attitude to women it displays.
  • Greg overhears girls say that another student has a ‘cute butt’ but does not know what that means

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Boys are shown on the toilet as there are no doors on the toilets, however nothing explicit is shown
  • Greg urinates on his brother after Rodrick tries to scare Greg while he is on the toilet
  • A bikini clad girl in a magazine shows excessive cleavage

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

There are some coarse language and putdowns in this movie, including:

  • ‘Dumb moron’
  • ‘Jerks’
  • ‘Idiot’
  • ‘Crappy’
  • ‘Good God’
  • ‘Freak job’
  • ‘Kick your butts’

In a nutshell

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is an entertaining and discussion-provoking look at pre-teens trying to survive the social minefield that is high school. The movie is particularly likely to appeal to those who have recently made, or are soon to make, the transition from primary to high school.

The main message from this movie is to be yourself. Rowley remains true to who he is, despite Greg trying to change him to fit in with the rest. Rowley’s warmth and sincerity shine through and help him to become popular with his peers without pretending to be someone else. Greg, on the other hand, tries desperately to fit in and be popular without success and ends up almost losing his friend.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Loyalty and friendship
  • The importance of self confidence and self esteem
  • Individuality
  • illingness to try new things

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as

  • Bullying and its physical and emotional consequences
  • Lying

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