This entertaining adaptation captures the spirit of the book's quirky main character's quest to break ridiculous rules and carry on after personal tragedy. Gluck's Rafe is as \"adorkable\" in the movie as he is in the book, with a whip-smart imagination and vivid drawings that come to life around him. The beauty of the title, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, is that most adults and even some younger viewers can relate to the daily challenges of middle school: indifferent administrators, bullies, social hierarchies, and rules -- some that make sense and others that seem silly and/or pointless. Rafe and Leo demonstrate a strong friendship as they try to show their classmates how unnecessary most of the rules are to their education.
Adapted from Jeff Kinney's bestselling children's books, the 2010 film Diary of a Wimpy Kid was neither an instant classic nor a blockbuster. Perhaps in twenty years, it will be as revered as Hocus Pocus now is to many millennials. But, initial critics and moviegoers just seemed to think Wimpy Kid was okay. Still, there were enough of the latter to make two sequels in two years and the budgets were small enough for even the medium-sized returns to be deemed profitable.Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life seems to be aiming for the exact same audience and reception. It too adapts a book and one with an unlikely author: grizzled and accomplished psychological thriller novelist James Patterson, who ventured into kid's lit with co-author Chris Tebbetts in 2011. Like the text, the film centers on Rafe Khatchadorian (Griffin Gluck), a creative pre-teen boy who is switching schools mid-semester after being expelled.That troubled academic record is at odds with our impression of Rafe, who has a good heart and vivid imagination. But he immediately does not like Hills Village MS, thanks in large part to Ken Dwight (Andy Daly), the school's code of conduct-citing, standardized test-loving principal whose strict methods make him loved by no one. Any chance of Dwight and Rafe getting along is erased early when the principal takes Rafe's sketchbook full of drawings and disintegrates it in a bucket of acid.At the encouragement of fellow transfer student Leo (Thomas Barbusca), Rafe decides to strike back by breaking the rules that Dwight holds so dear. Rafe carries out his plan anonymously to the delight of his fellow students and the bewilderment of the targeted administrator. The rule-shredding involves gags that seem colorful and imaginative as long as you don't think about them. Rafe fills the walls with colorful Post-It notes and dyes Dwight's hair bright pink.The adolescent rebellion gets not just Rafe in trouble, but also his cool teacher Mr. Teller (Adam Pally), who uses Drake and Future to teach free trade. As in the Wimpy Kid films, animation brings to life Rafe's drawings, which offer him some kind of moral support. (I guess it's noteworthy that the animation is 2D, making this one of the few new theatrical films in which you can find that traditional cartoon medium.)Also along for this ride are Rafe's single mother (Lauren Graham), a sous chef who prepares him haute bagged lunches, and Carl (Rob Riggle), her clearly awful, immature, and car-obsessed boyfriend, who is a bear in Rafe's doodlings.Middle School seems to have its heart in the right place, encouraging creativity and challenging absolute belief in standardized testing. But it's not nearly as funny and smart as it believes itself to be. The gags are unimaginative. The comedy is crude. And the message is unoriginal and unconvincing. The film allocates some solid screentime to actors like Riggle and Daly, who often amuse in more limited roles in teen and adult-oriented fare. But there is merely a chuckle here and there and the plot designed to give the film weight is downright manipulative and hokey.Middle School's hopes of drumming up Wimpy Kid-type business proved to be in vain, as the film ended up with $20 million domestic, less money than the first two Wimpy Kid movies grossed in their opening weekends. And unlike those films, which did a little bit of business in international markets, this one has hardly played outside of North America and only to insignificant returns. While its $8.5 M budget was small by any standards, it wasn't small enough for Middle School to be chalked up as a commercial win or as a potential franchise (Patterson has published nine books in the series to date).Less than three months after opening in theaters, Middle School kicks off 2017 with this week's Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD release from Lionsgate and CBS.
Pen15 fans, rejoice! If you've been waiting to get back to those cringey middle school years, you'll be glad to know Season 2 is finally here. If you're instead looking for a new show to add to the rotation, look no further than Woke, a comedy starring New Girl alum Lamorne Morris. 59ce067264