tek's rating: ¾

Dear Dumb Diary, Hallmark Channel
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This is based on a series of children's books which I've never read (in fact I don't think I'd heard of them before this). But the author of the books is Jim Benton, who also created Happy Bunny, so of course they're gonna be funny and kinda twisted. Certainly that's true of the movie. It's about a middle school girl named Jamie Kelly, who of course writes her thoughts about life in her "dumb diary," though I feel like the diary is actually a rather minor aspect of the movie. (There's a potential crisis when she loses the diary and it's found by kids at her school, but that doesn't happen until almost three quarters of the way through the movie.) Of course, Jamie does a lot of narration throughout the movie, which is probably always meant to represent diary entries, though I don't think that was always made blatantly clear. Anyway, the best thing about the movie is that there are occasionally really fun musical numbers that Jamie is fantasizing. (Usually it's her singing, though once it was the lunch lady.) It's all totally redonkulous, but kind of awesome.

Still, Jamie... isn't exactly a nice person. I guess maybe in a way she's kind of normal (even if she can seem kind of weird because of her fantasy sequences and stuff); you know, not a bad person. Just flawed, like everyone. Um... she has a crush on a boy named Hudson Rivers. And she has a best friend named Isabella, who's clearly a bad influence on her. And there's a "perfect girl" she hates, named Angeline. Rather atypically for movies like this, Angeline seems to be a much nicer person than the protagonist, so Jamie just comes off as jealous and spiteful, for no good reason. On top of that... I dunno about the books, but in the movie, I wouldn't say Jamie was really less cute than Angeline. It's also kind of odd that Jamie can simultaneously have a sort of inferiority complex with regard to Angeline, but otherwise have a pretty healthy ego. (She can sing about being "average" and also about being "awesome.") Oh, also, she has a kind of stereotypical pre-teen concept of any adults being ancient and gross, though she does like her art teacher. And for the most part, she likes her Aunt Carol. (Though it does bother her when Carol starts working at her school. And starts dating the assistant principal, though um... near the end of the movie she seems surprised to learn that they were a couple, when I could have sworn she'd been aware of it the whole time. Weird.) So... whatever, Jamie just has lots of conflicting viewpoints on the world, most of them unrealistic and, as I say, flawed. Nevertheless, she's fairly funny (what is "Earth" without art? It's just "eh"), and I can't help mostly liking her, in spite of all the things I dislike about her.

Anyway... a bunch of programs at her school get cut because of budget issues, including her beloved art program. But there's a Jump-a-thon fundraiser in which she eventually agrees to take part, which could save the program. Of course, Angeline is also competing in the fundraiser. And... I dunno, I suppose there's lots of random stuff going on throughout the movie, but none of it really seems that important. It's all just basically fodder for Jamie's skewed take on life, and mostly seemed to me like filler between fantasy musical numbers (or at least it existed to set up the fantasies). Eventually Jamie does sort of learn some valuable life lessons (none of this will matter in the future; pretty people can have inner beauty). They don't seem to change her much, but... you can see just enough of the beginnings of change that I feel like I wouldn't mind watching sequels, if they make any. Just to see her continue her progress toward maturity. And of course, to see more redonkulously awesome musical numbers. (I didn't really care much about any characters beside Jamie, though Angeline seems like someone who might be nice to learn more about. And Isabella was vaguely amusing, at times. I particularly liked when she mentioned Voldemort.)


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