Zachary Gordon is back as the pre-teen "wimpy kid" and this time he's getting grief from his unpleasant elder sibling Rodrick (Devon Bostick). The bickering gets so bad that mom (Rachael Harris) embarks on a concerted bid to get the brothers to bond... but boys will boys and it's soon open hostilities. After the success of the 2010 original, director David Bowers wrings plenty more laughs - and some home truths - from an all-too-believable sibling rivalry.
With wimpy diarist Greg Heffley (Gordon) conquering the demons that made being a middle schooler so grim he nowfinds a new set of concerns...at home.
Or to be more precise, his elder brother Rodrick (Bostick).
Rodrick's an awkward adolescent fresh out of college with dreams of making it in a band but still living with mom and dad... and casually making life a misery for Greg.
After humiliating the floundering youngster in front of a hot new classmate at a roller disco, Rodrick steps up the torment, never missing a chance to undermine or belittle his little bro.
Sensing that her boys are heading for domestic meltdown, mom (Harris) - a sort of agony aunt on a local rag - hits on the idea of the boys bonding with "mom bucks" that can be converted into dollars as an incentive.
However, Rodrick sees this as a gold-plated opportunity to make money with the unwitting Greg the fall guy for buddy sibling schemes he can fool his mum into believing.
Good natured and occasionally laugh-out loud funny, director David Bowers (Flushed Away, Astro Boy) neatly serves Jeff Kinney's comic novel in a comedy that will be all too familiar to many oppressed tweens.
Greg is basically a good guy, a fallible optimist, and there's plenty of mileage to be had from his school buddies, notably wide-eyed ingénue Rowley (Capron) who sweetly observes that the gorgeous new girl "is almost as pretty as my mom."
Life lessons are learnt (but not in a schmaltzy way) and Greg gets the girl (sort of) in an entertaining movie that's almost old-fashioned in its innate ability to charm.
Something to write home about.