Diary of a Wimpy Kid is not just a wildly popular book series, it has crossed over into both live-action and animated films. The newest of which is “Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever” — which is arriving on Disney+ just in time for the holiday season.

This animated, one-hour-long, movie, takes place during the winter holidays, which are turning out to be especially stressful for Greg Heffley. After accidentally damaging a snowplow while making a snowman with best friend Rowley Jefferson, Greg worries he won’t get the new video game console he so desperately wants for Christmas. As if that was bad enough, he gets snowed in with his family, including his grumpy older brother Rodrick and annoying younger brother Manny. To top it all off, his mother has found Santa’s helper, Elfriendo, who has one job — to watch the boys and make sure that they are being good, and he is willing to report back to Santa.

We caught up with book author, screenplay writer, and producer, Jeff Kinney, to chat about this latest Wimpy Kid venture. He reveals the inspiration behind the film, how he reacted when he first saw the animated version of Elfriendo, and what his favorite holiday traditions are.

What inspired the Cabin Fever story?

We just decided it was time to tell a holiday story. We did the school story and the brother story and it felt like a good time to tell a whole family story. Especially because these movies come out in December and it kind of hits the sweet spot right now. It was a fun movie to put together. It is a different kind of Wimpy Kid story, and it was a good challenge for us.

Elfriendo is perfectly creepy, what did you think when you first saw him come to animated life?

I loved it. I thought the animators did a really good job. It’s funny because I can’t tell if it’s scary. Like I can’t tell if a three or five year old kid is going to be scarred by this or if they’re gonna think it’s cute. I don’t know. I think we got it right. But you know what, we’ll find out when kids go to therapy and like 20 years.

The mother in this film really loves her holiday traditions. Do you have favorite holiday tradition?

 I used to get that Sears catalog every year. We would get this big thick Sears catalog, and then we’d go through it. The back third of it was all toys, things that a kid could just dream about. In fact, I think they literally called it the wish book. And you’d circle the things that you’d want to make sure that your parents know that you’ve circled those things. So that was a big part of my tradition growing up.

Greg and Rowley destroy a snow plow in this movie. Did you get up to any holiday hijinks yourself growing up?

We did something like that. My friend and I, just like Greg and Rowley, we decided to build the world’s biggest snowman. We started to roll up this snowball, and we found it didn’t take long before we couldn’t move it very well. Then, when we were able to move it, we were tearing up the grass. The sod, really. And so we had this giant snowball that now looks like a meatball and a torn up lawn. I’m sure we tried to patch up the bare spots on the ground. So that’s where that idea came from. And we lived on a hill so that thing could have rolled down the hill and that would have been the end of snowplow if it hit it.

There is a bit of a message about doing the right thing around the holiday season in this film. Do you feel that you are inspiring kids because my daughters really resonated with that.

 I’ve always tried to avoid having my books be messaging or to trickly, and I think that it was the right thing to do for this story. Every Christmas story really has to have heart or it’s not gonna feel like a Christmas story. But I’m glad that your daughters responded well to it, because that’s what we’re going for. That surprise at the end. I hope we didn’t telegraphy anything too much.

Get ready for the naughtiest, nicest, and wimpiest Christmas ever. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid Christmas: Cabin Fever” streams December 8th on Disney+.

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Tessa Smith

Tessa Smith AKA Mama's Geeky, is a journalist that covers geek and Disney culture on her own website, as well as freelances for other sites such as What's On Disney Plus and Screen Rant. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Marketing and loves all things geeky. She is a Disney Vacation Club member and a Founders Circle Member of Disney+. She is also an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes and a member of the Critics Choice Association. Tessa lives in Upstate New York with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs named Sansa and Khaleesi.

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