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Mom Bucks
Also central to the story are Greg's mom and dad, played by Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn. Being Greg and Rodrick's parents is no picnic, but mom Susan Heffley is trying to do her best with the men in her life. "Susan has started writing a parenting column for the local newspaper about her family and she feels like hers should be a model family,” says Harris. "But Susan's family is not a model family; they're the Heffleys.”

"Every parent can relate to Susan's challenges with her son,” says Nina Jacobson. "There's no relationship that lasts longer than the one with your siblings, and Susan is desperate to get her boys to be closer. Her husband, Frank is a little skeptical about her efforts to bring the boys together, knowing that Rodrick is not a great influence. But Susan will do whatever she can to bring them together. She resorts to incentivizing them to get along through cash rewards she calls ‘Mom Bucks.' The ‘Mom Bucks' could be called bribery or reinforcement, depending on how you look at it.”

"Susan is anything but wimpy,” says Rachael Harris. "She pulls out the ‘Mom Bucks' because she wants her boys to get along and spend more quality time together. She comes up with the idea that, for every hour they spend together, they each get a Mom Buck, exchangeable for actual currency. Susan is going to do what she has to do. She's very willful, like Greg.”

While Susan uses the persuasion of Mom Bucks to bring her boys together, her husband Frank is not convinced it's a great idea. "Even though he seems a little less involved with these family dynamics, Frank actually has a pretty good instinct that if the boys start spending more time together, Rodrick is going to rub off on Greg,” says Steve Zahn, who plays the Heffley patriarch. "That might not be the best thing.”

Simpson sums up the Heffley family dynamics: "Even though the Wimpy Kid books have a subversive edge and a wicked sense of humor, they contain important themes that families will latch onto. Greg comes to realize that his brother is always going to be there, for the rest of his life, for better or worse. Greg Heffley resonates with kids because he's real and imperfect. I think this movie will resonate with families because the Heffleys are a real and imperfect family.”

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