Make a note in your diary folks, the small screen adaptation of James Paterson’s excellent Middle School books starts on February 10 (today) with a movie adaptation of Middle School, the Worst Year of My Life, made by and exclusive to Netflix.
The Middle School series are wildly popular with primary school kids, sitting in the same genre as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Tom Gates books. Middle School has a slightly darker edge to it, but this aspect of it is handled with sensitivity and it’s also good to see the main character, Rafe, in a single parent family, better reflecting the different family lives that we all live now (not me I hasten to add, I’m married with 3 kids).
On the surface of things, following a family bereavement, it looks like it’s Rafe’s little sister who has gone off the rails but as Rafe starts YET another new school, and his buddy Leo pulls faces behind the headmasters back, it seems like Rafe might have a bit of trouble with authority.
As the story unfolds, we see Rafe and Leo set about systematically breaking all the excessive rules the school’s headmaster has in place, with often hilarious effect. Tempering the humour is the story of Rafe and his loss, because even when we find out Leo is Rafe’s imaginary friend, that still isn’t the entire story…
Like any good kids movie, the villains (the head, the potential step dad) are larger than life, exaggerations of what you would expect to find but like a great kids movie, the main character, played with great charm by the awesomely named Griffin Gluck, comes across as almost the only normal person in the movie. The performances are great, they’re working from good source material and the whole film hangs together really well. My two eldest kids have read a selection of Middle School books and they both loved the movie (we went to a screening last Sunday). They’ve been waiting impatiently for the 10th because they want to watch it again!