During the casting call, Rodney tries out to be the Tin Man but doesn't make the cut. He is relegated to playing the Shrub, as there are too many kids in the play and the school has started to make up roles.
He figures out how to sneak a video game into his costume and begins to use it to pass the time during rehearsals, since his only role is to sit on stage and do nothing. At one point, Archie Kelly trips over him and chips his tooth because he couldn't use his arms to break his fall. This leads to the school allowing him and the other tree actors carve out arm holes.
Right before the play, Rodney gets stage fright, which causes the production to be delayed for half an hour. His mom eventually has to carry him off, since he won't budge.
In the film, he initially plays the role of a bush but becomes part of the tree scene during the actual play.
- In the film, he was seen playing Mario Kart DS on a Nintendo DS.
- According to Jeff Kinney, Rodney James was held back during the events of Rodrick Rules.
- It's possible that Rodney is related to Lionel James or Terrence James, as they all have the same last name.