Ah, childhood summers. The time when you and a chubby kid with a bowl haircut could be best pals, try and get that one hot blonde from social studies to go out with you, and enjoy the public waterpark.
That pretty much sums up Dog Days. Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) and Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron) put on some stylish shades and go to a country club, where Greg’s dream girl, Holly Hills (Peyton List), coincidentally works. From there, Greg tries his best to look like a stud, but ends up looking like a cross-dressed fool and bad friend to Rowley. There’s a little more to it than that, like Greg and Rowley’s amusement park endeavor and the infamous camping scene from the book, but otherwise it’s a pretty cliche` adventure.
The big thing that made the book such a success is that Jeff Kinney knew how to make cliche` morals and story sequences interesting and unique with his own cast of characters, and the movie just misses the boat here. The story alone doesn’t keep Dog Days afloat for long, and by the end of the movie you’ll felt as though you just saw Stuart Little 4. That’s actually a great comparison, as the Stuart Little book-to-movie series followed the exact same trend: First movie adaptation was kick-ass, second was okay, and by the third all the charm was lost (although the third Stuart Little just flat-out sucked and only Michael J. Fox’s voice made it worth a watch). I’m not saying that Dog Days was a bad movie, it’s just not something that deserves priority over, say, DARK KNIGHT RISES or another comedy such as “The Watch”.
The acting is equivalent to a high-quality musical, but none of the acting was mind-blowingly good. The only performance that really stood out was Steve Zahn as Greg’s dad, who was on par with Malcolm in the Middle’s Bryan Cranston. That’s as high a compliment as I can come up with.
Dog Days is a cute movie, to word it accurately. It definitely isn’t an Oscar winner or instant child classic, but it’s an alright time-passer for a family movie night with young children involved.