Movie Review: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul”

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

For the first time in a REALLY long time, I had one of the kiddos along for the screening, so this review is in a slightly different format–to give the perspective of the target demographic: a 10-year-old.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” is another chapter in the life of Greg Heffley (Jason Drucker), a much beleaguered twelve-year-old boy who’s alternately tormented by his overly well-meaning parents and his insufferable, annoying older brother, Rodrick (Charlie Wright). This time, the Heffleys are hitting the road to go halfway across the country for the 90th birthday party of Greg’s great-grandmother, Meemaw (Mimi Gould).

The movie opens with the entire family (plus one of Greg’s friends) having a family-friendly dinner at a local restaurant that seems like a cross between a Chuck E. Cheese and a series of unmanaged troughs; this restaurant seems to be all at once the best friend and worst nightmare for the parents of young children. While hunting for his little brother in the overflowing ball pit/swimming pool, Greg manages to get a loose diaper stuck on his hand. The Power of the Internet soon takes over: he’s memed in a heartbeat as “Diaper Hands” and what little rep he has is shredded in the process.

The timing of this trip to Meemaw’s couldn’t be better. Greg needs some time away–and his mother, Susan (Alicia Silverstone), sees this as a perfect time for the family to reconnect offline. Naturally, she doesn’t know initially about how her husband, Frank (Tom Everett Scott), is sneaking in work while on the trip, nor does she know about Greg and Rodrick redirecting the GPS so they can have a shot at making it to a gamer convention that’s not quite en route. Her innocence at virtually every turn is rather incredible and it bespeaks the story’s origins as an elementary-school staple; mom always has your best interests at heart, and she’s way more innocent about how the world works than you think. (Reality is never this uncomplicated, but I digress.)

What follows the family’s departure from the homestead is a series of gaffes, missteps, and mishaps that alternate between funny and cringe-worthy. Even with some laughs, this movie may make parents reconsider taking a lengthy car trip with the kiddos. Speaking of kiddos, I have a ten-year old with thoughts of her own; my interview and her (only very lightly edited) responses can be found below–as well as both of our ratings.

Me: You’ve read “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul”. How do you think this stacks up versus the book: better, worse, about the same…or just different? Remember that not every movie made from a book has to be just like the book; it can be enjoyable on its own, even if it changes a few things here or there.

DD: It is definitely different from the book, with a few changes near the end (I won’t give that away). The story is similar to the movie, but overall the book is a little bit more exciting than the movie. If I had to choose between watching the movie again or reading the book, I would choose reading the book because it’s more interesting than the movie.

Me: Was there anything particularly good or bad about the movie, such as any scenes that made a particular impression on you? Remember not to give away any spoilers about the ending!


The only bad parts were parts where it was unrealistic:

  1. The Agricultural Fair. I have been to several Agricultural fairs before, and they were total opposites of this. Normally, they are so crowded you can barely get through, it takes you half an hour to get food, and the rides are so full you only get to go on a few. Not this one; it was WAY TOO open. The booths were miles away from each other, and there was barely anyone there! The lines for the rides were so short, you could probably go to every ride in under an hour.
  2. The Motel that they stayed at during the trip was overly gross. It was so UGLY and DISGUSTING. You could see small tiny holes in the bed that were burned. In the bathroom, there were cockroaches all over the floor, and the pool HAD NO WATER IN IT! The only things that were actually IN the pool were mice (or rats) and old wrappers/bags of food.

The good parts were:

  1. The scenery. It was just gorgeous!
  2. The pig. It was SO CUTE! The only thing I didn’t like is that in the book, the pig is in a little bit more than half of it, and in the movie, he/she’s in a small number of scenes.

Me: Did you think the actors did a good job portraying their characters? Any standouts–good or bad?

DD: I think most of the actors did a good job at portraying their character appropriately and to the age they are set to be. The only mishap I had was with Rodrick. He is supposed to be 16-17 and is acting like he is 19-20. Also, he is supposed to be a crazy teen, but seems more like a teen that is loud and obnoxious.

Me: Is “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” appropriate for kids? If so, what age would be the youngest you’d recommend?

DD: I would recommend this movie for kids age 7+. I wouldn’t go any lower, due to a couple of scenes and some language (there are no swears, but even so), I think that it would be a little much for them. I think that kids like me, ages 9+, might like/dislike it based on the books (I have read them all).

Me: On a scale of zero to four stars, where zero is “I NEVER WANT TO SEE THIS AGAIN”, and four is “THIS WAS THE BEST MOVIE EVER AND EVERYONE SHOULD GO SEE IT” (and where half stars are allowed), how would you rate “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul”?

DD: I would rate this three stars out of four. I don’t like it as much as I liked the book (like I explained in the first question). It was entertaining, but even so, there were some parts that didn’t make me go “WOW!” or “COOL!”; they just made me go, “So…what does that have to do with the story?!” This is just my opinion, but people are different, so you might like it better or worse than I did (depending on your taste of movies).

Me: For my part, I’d rate it two stars out of four–but I’m not the target audience; I’m just the money and the ride. Thanks for your help, kiddo!

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” opens in theatres on Friday, May 19, 2017. It is rated PG for some rude humor.

Let’s be honest: perimenopause kinda sucks


image credit:

(**Requisite TMI warning**)

My daughter is nine years old, so she’s at the point where she’s had enough time watching me deal with tampons and pads that she’s getting a sense of what is coming for her when she gets older. One day, she may even blush when I remind her of that time we were in CVS for toothpaste or something else benign and she loudly asked, “Do you need any crotch pads???” I’m sure I heard an adult at least one aisle over snickering, but there was nothing to do except quietly suggest that perhaps that’s a question better asked at a slightly lower volume.

More recently, as she’s seen me struggle with the effects of perimenopause, my daughter has started to question how any of this works out in her favor. An exchange from the other week:

DD: "Wait a minute--girls have to have these bleeding periods, 
and we carry the babies...what do boys GET?!"

Me: "Uh, nothing, really. But they do get to pee standing up."

DD: "..."

Yeah, I know, kid, things are rough all over.

It all started two years ago, at the ripe young age of 41, when we were getting ready to head down to our first trip to Disney World. It’s not unusual for me to get cramps with my period and, like many women, I’ve gotten used to the pain being somewhere along the spectrum from “meh” to “I’ll have that bottle of ibuprofen NAO please”. I took two ibuprofen before we boarded the plane, but this seemed to be…different. The flight from Boston to Orlando isn’t long, but it might as well have been a transatlantic trip for all I cared. It felt like an ovary was exploding. I’d never felt such pain in my life (and I’m saying this as someone who has recovered from two c-sections, where you get an 8″ incision across your abdomen).

Pain radiated down my leg and there was no position that made me feel more comfortable. Chowing down more ibuprofen wouldn’t have done the trick, and I had nothing stronger. My body refused to shut down and just put me to sleep, but the pain was so intense that I ended up dashing to the lav twice to get sick. I don’t get airsick.

When we landed, it was now far enough from the time when I first took the two tablets to take a bunch more, so I gobbled down four tablets in our hotel room and waited for the pain to subside. Eventually it did; after about 12 hours, I finally started to feel like myself again. After we got back from Disney, I started to experience hot flashes on a random basis. Anyone living in New England knows that you need to dress in layers to navigate the ever-changing weather with grace, but this becomes even more of a requirement when you could have hot flashes. One minute you’re fine, the next minute you’re feeling flames moving up your cheeks and internally lighting your body on fire.

I started to do some research on perimenopause and discovered that my symptoms were fairly routine:

  • hot flashes
  • irregular, sometimes really awful periods
  • difficulty sleeping
  • weight gain

This was also the point when I learned that perimenopause is the phase of life when ovaries stop producing a steady stream of hormones, while menopause is actually a defined point in time–exactly 12 months following the last menstrual period.

There are treatments out there for perimenopause, and I talked about them with my primary care physicians several times in the last few years. The most common treatments involve the use of hormones or herbal remedies. I checked in with my nurse practitioner at physical time this year, and she admitted that the options weren’t great. I can either grin and bear it or I can pop hormones (typically something along the line of birth control pills, for a steady low-dose of hormonal therapy). Unfortunately, the hormones can increase the risk of breast cancer, and I already have a family history of that…so, yeah, no. There isn’t enough evidence that herbs solve for any of this reliably, either.

Grin and bear it, I guess.

It’s pretty terrible to think that this is how things will be for the next few years–perhaps even as long as a decade–until things finally settle down. Of course, that comes with its own emotional baggage. I have no interest in having any more kids, so that’s not an issue, but there is a strange emotional hump to get over when it comes to the sinking realization that I’m also likely halfway through my life. It’s the sense that this is all fleeting, and the last few frenetic gasps of my ovaries are only canaries in the coal mine.

Naturally, I’d love it if this would all happen with more whimper and less bang; I truly don’t need to have to wear pantiliners every damn day because I never know if and when my body will decide to declare “Shenanigans!” I don’t like having to make sure I’m never far from a bottle of ibuprofen because if I fail to take four pills when the pain start, I’m likely to go down like I got sucker punched in the abdomen repeatedly. It’s pretty annoying always having to dress in layers out of necessity, not fashion.


If adult life is about constant adjustment, I guess this is just one more set of curveballs. And, like everything else, I guess I just have to put on my big girl panties and deal (in more ways that one).

How to decide between BlogHer and Blogger Bash (or ANY blogging conference, for that matter)

This year marked my third BlogHer conference, and it was my first time heading to Blogger Bash–partially because the conferences happened to overlap this year, both time-wise and geographically. Now that I’ve been to both, I can definitely say that I have a much better understanding of both offerings. Since I’ve been to more than my fair share of conferences for blogging and work, it seemed like a good idea to break down the best ways to pick the right conference out of a crowded field. (I’ll say that I’m only talking about these two conferences specifically because I haven’t yet attended Blissdom, Bloggy Boot Camp, etc. You can check out Slapdash Mom’s thoughts on which blog conference is the best, if you want to hear from someone who’s experienced a wider array.)

Before I get into a general list of things to consider before choosing ANY type of conference, let’s first talk about BlogHer and Blogger Bash.

At its core, BlogHer is very much like a traditional conference; there are keynotes, break-out sessions and other birds-of-a-feather or track-based events, and an Expo for meeting sponsors and other vendors who paid to get in front of the attendees. It also has added events with special sponsors who pay for more intimate or exclusive access–through breakfasts, lunches, suite-based events, or other special affairs.

BlogHer sessions are more about content (writing, video, photography, etc.), so it really focuses a lot of attention on the voices within the blogs and the messages they’re relaying. Since BlogHer offers both “Full Conference” and “Expo/Party” (Networking) pass options, it’s important to understand just how much you’ll go to those keynotes and sessions before deciding on a pass. (Also, conference breakfasts and lunches are only included with the Full Conference passes.) As much as I’d like to attend the keynotes, my non-newbie status means that I just don’t get as much out of the sessions as I did in prior years. If I were to branch out into something new, like vlogging, then I might consider something other than Expo/Party again.

Blogger Bash, on the other hand, is more like a series of well-choreographed events that are organized under the aegis of a conference. The engines that drive Blogger Bash are the sponsors and sponsor-related events (like Sweet Suite), and it’s all about the connections with the brands. For those who really prefer the special events that are “on the side” for BlogHer, Blogger Bash puts those center stage and promotes those experiences first and foremost.

The opportunities are both unique and exciting at Blogger Bash, especially for those who write a lot of product reviews and/or who do sponsored content; above all, it’s about meeting up with brands, learning about their products (often from first-hand experience or flashy events), and engaging with the brands in ways that a standard Expo setup simply can’t provide. (That’s not to say that Blogger Bash lacks an Expo; it has one. However, it was modest in scale and manner by comparison to what it sported just the night before at Sweet Suite.)

So, here’s the checklist, if you’re trying to decide between BlogHer and Blogger Bash:

Comparison of BlogHer and Blogger Bash

And what about the wealth of other blogger conferences? Here are some questions to ask before registering:

Do you know anyone else who has ever attended that conference? What was their experience?

What are the sessions or events about? How well do those align with your niche(s) or area(s) of interest?

Who is speaking at the keynotes, sessions, and panels? Are these people of interest to you?

Are other bloggers you know or admire attending? Will going to that conference help you expand your network and build relationships with other bloggers?

What brand or organizational connections can you establish, maintain, or renew by attending?

It seems simpler than it is, but ultimately these are the basic questions that have to be answered. Of course, this also assumes that money and time aren’t factors (or they’re issues that have already been addressed).

And, speaking from experience, if you decide to attend more than one blogger conference simultaneously, as I did this year, make sure that you balance your schedule appropriately. With Blogger Bash only offering full conference passes, I wanted my time investment to match my financial one. That meant I had to go with the BlogHer Expo/Party (Networking) pass to keep from paying for an experience I knew I couldn’t manage. If you don’t have good time management skills, I would also recommend sticking to a single conference and focusing on the basics of the conference you’re attending. Adding on events outside the one you’re attending can make logistics and scheduling a nightmare if you can’t accurately forecast transit time, networking time, etc.

So go forth and find that which interests you. I know I’ll be at BlogHer ’16 — what about you?