Life was better in the old days. Or was it?
That’s the question Greg Heffley is asking as his town voluntarily unplugs and goes electronics-free. But modern life has its conveniences, and Greg isn’t cut out for an old-fashioned world.
With tension building inside and outside the Heffley home, will Greg find a way to survive? Or is going “old school” just too hard for a kid like Greg?
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Greg Heffley's grandfather has been living with his family due to being unable to pay for the rent at the retirement home. Greg is irritated because Grandpa decides to stay in his room, forcing Greg to sleep on an air bed in younger brother Manny's room. Meanwhile, Greg's mother has made a petition to get everyone in town to unplug from their electronic devices for 48 hours. Greg does not like his mother's idea and doesn't believe she would get the signatures. Surprisingly, she is able to gather enough signatures to make the town unplug since most of the signatures are from older people. Greg's father, Frank, wants him to always screw back the toothpaste cap on the tube and, when Greg says it is not that big of a deal, Frank tells him a story about how, if he lived in the 19th century in a prairie wagon, and one of the wagon wheels fell off, the family would be eaten by wolves, because he could not screw the wheel on. Greg decides to leave the park to avoid work with one of Rodrick's former friends Billy and his homework buddy, Frew. Billy quickly becomes a criminal after stealing a pack of gummy worms. Greg's mother tracks him with a device attached to Greg's shoe, ruining her electronics-free weekend which she is upset about. The next day, Frank is seen upset over Greg for the park incident, but goes away later for a business trip. Greg then needs his grandpa to drive him to the hardware store, because Greg flooded out the bathroom and stained the ceiling in the kitchen, after trying to fish out the toothpaste cap that went down the drain. Greg is shaken when Grandpa immediately crashes into a trashcan and hits a neighbors mailbox and remembers that Grandpa's license was taken from him 1 year ago. His inability to drive is proven when he uses the exit ramp to get on the highway and almost crashes head-on into 2 other cars. Things get worse when the car runs out of fuel. While his grandpa gets help, Greg waits in the car, where he sees a group of the community workers who were helping clean up the park and one of the workers is Billy. He hides in the car but accidentally hits the shifter and the car rolls into a ditch. Greg decides to go on the Hardscrabble Farms trip because he is scared Frank will find out about the toothpaste cap and the crashed car. While on the trip, Greg hears a rumor of Silas Scratch, a crazy farmer who lives in the woods. The final night, the campers are forced to stay in woods with Frank as a chaperone (who is already mad enough about the car, gets disappointed the bathroom doesn't work, and he reveals he went to Hardscrabble Farms when he was a middle-schooler), where they fear that they will be eaten by wolves. While getting firewood, Greg discovers Silas's shack. Inside, he finds Frank. Frank says that he made up the Silas Scratch rumor after he discovered the shack had a shower and a toilet when he was a kid. He wanted to keep it a secret, so he thought the rumor would keep people away. He was also surprised that the rumor is still going on all these years, but he left it as a secret. Greg then agrees to keep it a secret, and afterward spreads the word about the lunatic Silas Scratch to help Frank keep his shed for himself. The two go back home in the car instead of the bus and Greg warns the next students with a sign saying "Beware of Silas Scratch".