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Disney+ is a well-oiled machine when it comes to regularly producing new family-friendly content, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever is one of their latest fresh original outputs. The animated Christmas comedy special is the seventh installment of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid film series, which are all based on the original books by author and cartoonist Jeff Kinney. Clocking in at just over an hour, this movie immerses viewers in Christmastime with the Heffley family through the eyes of our titular “wimpy kid” Greg (Wesley Kimmel), who is at the center of some serious seasonal hijinks. But does Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever belie its name and stand strong as must-watch seasonal streaming, or is it ultimately just a weak attempt at a holiday hit?
The Gist: For Greg Heffley (Wesley Kimmel), Christmas is all about the gifts. As a result, he’s trying his best to be good all December long so he can get a new gaming system called the MegaStation 9000, but things don’t go according to plan. When Greg and his goody-two-shoes best friend Rowley Jefferson (Spencer Howell) accidentally damage a snowplow while constructing a snowman, Greg worries that he’ll end up on the naughty list.
Desperate to get his coveted gift, Greg attempts to ditch his and Rowley’s hat, scarf, and earmuffs in a local dumpster so the “Snowplow Lady” Gabby (Lisa Ann Walter) can’t identify them as the perpetrators of their snowplow assault. But when the dumpster turns out to actually be a toy donation bin that will be emptied on Christmas Eve by the police, Greg realizes he needs to remove their winter accessories ASAP, since his full name is stitched onto the hat. Too bad the next day he wakes up to mountains of snow that seal him indoors with his mom Susan (Erica Cerra), dad Frank (Chris Diamantopoulos), older brother Rodrick (Hunter Dillon), and baby brother Manny (Gracen Newton). Now with nowhere to run or hide, Greg must be on his best behavior in order to make it through Christmas and get what he wants.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever of course brings to mind previous Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies, but may also evoke certain aspects of the classic 1983 Christmas comedy movie, A Christmas Story.
Performance Worth Watching: There are plenty of great and delightful vocal performances given in this movie, but out of anyone, Spencer Howell’s work as Rowley stuck out the most to me. Even though he didn’t get as much screentime as Greg, he still made the most of every moment and contributed memorable, convincing, and impressive moments, like emitting an ear-splitting shriek he released whilst a giant snowball rolled over him or when he slayed an angelic falsetto version of “Silent Night.”
Memorable Dialogue: “I can’t go to jail! My parents would be… disappointed in me!!” “Well, I can’t go to jail either! I heard they have metal toilets, and they’re right out in the open. I need my privacy when I go to the bathroom.” Greg and Rowley obviously have very different priorities, but I find both of their worries very relatable.
A Holiday Tradition: It looks like it used to be a tradition in Susan’s family for her grandma’s creepy hand-stitched toy, Elfrendo, to be placed on a shelf keeping an eye on her family to ensure good behavior during the holiday season. This year, Susan is trying to bring this demonic offshoot of an “Elf on the Shelf” back, and at the very least it’s definitely striking fear into Greg’s heart.
Does the Title Make Any Sense?: Oh absolutely. “Cabin fever” is a great title to describe the absolute unraveling of the Heffley family’s sanity as they’re trapped together in close quarters leading up to Christmas. I mean who wouldn’t get cabin fever after being forced to endure that many games of charades and cans of yams?
Our Take: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever is a heck of a lot of fun. Bolstered by a talented voice cast and strong writing from the original book series author, Jeff Kinney, the movie flies by with plenty of slapsticky silliness and general goofiness that will delight kids, in addition to clever quips and other sneakily hilarious moments that will equally amuse adult viewers. This is truly a title that anyone can enjoy, which makes it a pretty darn great piece of holiday season viewing, since it should appeal to a pretty wide range of viewers with varying tastes.
Also, while the live-action Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies are fun and camp, I think that animation is truly the ideal medium for these titles since the original books were, in fact, cartoons. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever truly understands and makes great use of its medium, incorporating fantastical chase scenes, weird classmate Fregley’s (Christian Convery) bizarre antics (he somehow got inside of a snowman?!), and destructive giant snowballs. All of this culminates in a wild and wonderful Christmas special that is sure to make viewers very merry, indeed.
Our Call: STREAM IT! Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever ultimately succeeds and packs a punch as a sweet, humorous, and heartfelt piece of Disney+ Original holiday programming.