The adaptation of James Patterson’s kid-lit novel fails to make the most of a list of comic opportunities. - From The Boston Globe
Add a message It’s clear from the sigh-heaving title that “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” wants very badly to commiserate with its young target audience.
But this aged-up, comedically flat adaptation of James Patterson’s kid-lit novel is hardly in a class with templates like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” Some flashes of poignancy, surprisingly, are the biggest thing the film has going for it, shoehorned though they are into the uninspired mischief.
The character and his ostensible offenses don’t feel particularly subversive, but Gluck does a bit to sell this undercooked fiction with sprinkles of scoffing expressiveness.
The film’s lone strength is the fleeting dramatic scenes offering a little back story — and pathos — on Rafe’s home life with his sweetly understanding single mom (Lauren Graham, who you’d guess wouldn’t have bothered otherwise).
But these deftly played moments feel glaringly at odds with the cartoonish handling of, say, Riggle’s verbal abuser.