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Jeff Kinney Explains How Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Is Still Relevant And Relatable - Exclusive

This month saw the debut of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," an animated adaptation of Jeff Kinney's long running book series. The movie is deeply loyal to the source material –- it hits all the big plot points from the book, and the animation matches Kinney's artwork. As such, it hits on a lot of traditional coming-of-age plot points: Kids adapting to new schools, trying to fit in, and the search for something to call your own.

That said, there's also a bunch of new elements. A lot has changed since the first "Wimpy Kid" book came out in 2007, and the movie acknowledges that. The students have smartphones and are occasionally seen taking selfies. Greg understands that follows on social media factor into popularity. There's also an offhand joke about how people rarely carry cash anymore.

Looper spoke with Kinney, who wrote the screenplay and acted as a producer. He told us how he integrated these new issues while keeping the overall story evergreen.

A light touch

"I tried to go about it with a really light touch because I want these stories to feel really timeless,” said Kinney. "And so I thought to myself, 'Okay, 20 years from now, what are going to be the issues that kids have?' I think that parents are still going to have to decide, 'When do you give your kid a cell phone?' Obviously, social media is going to still be around and people aren't going to be carrying cash."

Kinney then reemphasized that "we tried to keep a really light touch because we want these things to be relatable" and added a larger goal for perspective: "we want a grandfather [or] a grandmother right now to watch the movie and feel like this could have happened to them too." When asked which movies he drew on for inspiration, he cited "A Christmas Story," along with "some other movies like that, which are these sort of timeless stories about childhood." It's easy to see the comparison – while a lot of the particulars of "A Christmas Story" were about the time and place, the core story about childhood has resonated with many generations.

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid" is now streaming on Disney+.