Daring decision restores devoted friendship

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Rated PG

Decisions, decisions! With the start of school, your daughter is faced with so many new choices. Soccer or gymnastics? Band or chorus? Cheerleading squad or science club? The possibilities seem endless, but she is frozen with indecision. In fact, she may miss some opportunities if she doesn’t choose soon.

Drawing on your own experience, you remind her that our choices make us who we are. You recount some of the major decisions in your life — college, career, spouse — and share the positive and not-so-positive results. It’s just enough to restore her confidence, and she makes the right decisions for herself.

Those life-shaping choices are what drive the story of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” now available on DVD. Watch it at home with your kids and discuss the consequences of “wimpy” Greg’s decisions in his first year of middle school. Our Talk Together points can help get the conversation going. Then, keep a “Decision Diary” to discover the impact of your everyday choices.

In “Diary of Wimpy Kid,” 11-year-old Greg and his geeky best friend, Rowley, approach middle school with the usual anxiety. What should they wear? Which clubs should they join? Where will they end up on Greg’s “popularity” scale?

Greg and Rowley seem to have found their niche when they make the school’s student security patrol. They wear their badges proudly as they escort kindergarteners home after school. But one rainy afternoon, Greg — clad in Rowley’s distinctive red poncho — must carry out the task alone. Along the way, he gets scared by some teens who have been terrorizing him and Rowley. Panicked, he orders the kindergarteners into a hole at a construction site and runs away. A neighbor mistakes Greg for Rowley (because of the poncho) and reports him to the school.

The next day, Rowley is baffled when he is dismissed from the patrol squad for endangering the children. Greg finally explains what happened to Rowley, but Greg won’t take responsibility for his actions. Deeply disappointed, Rowley ends their long friendship and soon finds a new best bud. Greg is miserable without Rowley.

Then, one day, Greg and Rowley are confronted by the teen bullies on the school playground. They force Rowley to eat the moldy cheese that, legend has it, has been stuck on the basketball court forever. No one dares to even touch the cheese. When their classmates gather to watch, Greg grabs the cheese away from Rowley and claims to have been the one to eat it. The students run away, screaming. Rowley is touched by Greg’s willingness to take on the “curse” of the cheese. Greg may be shunned by his peers, at least for a while, but with Rowley at his side, he is content with the choice he made.

Talk together

Greg worries that his friendship with Rowley may affect his own popularity in middle school. Why? What does Rowley do that Greg thinks isn’t appropriate in middle school?

What happens to make Rowley suddenly popular? How does he react? How does Greg react? Is popularity at school something that is important to you? Why or why not?

Play together: Decision Diary

You will need:

• Notebook

• Pen or pencil

For one week, keep a diary of all the decisions you make. Be sure to include everything from what you eat for breakfast to how you respond to the classroom rules at school.

At the end of the week, sit down with your family and share your entries. Discuss how your decisions turned out. How would you have handled them differently? Remember the advice Greg’s mom gave him? How did your choices this week make you who you are?Plan a family movie night this fall! Check out our archives at www.Cinematters.com and get some great ideas for fun with your favorite films.

© 2010, Cinematters.