Middle school is a place of horror - bullies, jocks and wedgies - to Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) who fancies that he can devise an endless series of fail-safe schemes to escape. However, an easy exit is not as simple as it appears and it takes a few hard lessons to learn that it's your friends that count. Live-action adaptation of Jeff Kinney's illustrated novel about a wise-cracking junior high school student.
From Hogwarts to St Trinians, a new school promises untold terror for the nipper making his first tentative steps into a foreign land of strange ritual and alien tradition.
However, bright-eyed Greg (Gordon) doesn't have magic spells or minor criminality to help him on his way as he heads into middle school, uncharted territory rigged with hundreds of social landmines.
What he does have is a podgy, ginger-fringed pal - Rowley Jefferson (Capron) - an unembarrassed optimist unencumbered by notions of fitting in or looking good.
However, while Rowley's good-natured acceptance of everything lands him friends, Greg's increasingly bitter bids to win peer approval drive a wedge between the pair.
Director Thor "Hotel For Dogs" Freudenthal has opted for the straightforward in his adaptation of Jeff Kinney's best-selling illustrated novel.
Yet that doesn't mean it's simplistic - Greg is a complex creation beautifully observed. He's judgemental, selfish and lazy and his redemption doesn't come easy.
On the face of it, this should have never left the TV schedules yet, while it appears all-too-obvious, there's an awful lot going on with fully filled out characters abrasively rubbing along.
The ritual humiliations are seemingly small (being obliged to sit on the floor of the school cafeteria) but to an ankle-biter they take on mythical proportions, a quality neatly conveyed in a movie that has more depth than you might think.