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Review: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
10.10.2014
5 10

PLOT: After having far too many bad days himself, twelve-year-old Alexander makes a wish the day before his birthday that his family will finally understand his plight. Once the sun comes up, he seemingly gets his wish and everybody except him seems to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

REVIEW: For nearly every single twelve-year-old there are days that just plain suck. This is especially true for the title character in ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY. Not unlike Molly Ringwald as ‘Samantha Baker’ in SIXTEEN CANDLES, Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) seems to be having a very tough time with his big birthday bash only a day away. This unlucky preteen and his entire world is a mess. While his father Ben (Steve Carell) is ever optimistic even though he is out of work caring for the family, and his mother Kelly (Jennifer Garner) is enjoying a particularly successful career, Alexander feels like nobody understands his plight. Even his ‘actress’ sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) and his popular brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) seem to be enjoying their teenage years.

With all this frustration, Alexander feels forgotten and abandoned and makes a wish that everybody would understand what having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day feels like – because of course nobody else knows what that’s like. And guess what? His wish comes true. In fact, the only one seemingly having a good day is Alexander as his entire family seems to be suffering through awful situations, one after another. This is the story behind ALEXANDER and at times, this PG rated family flick is a pleasant little excursion. Based on the popular children’s book by Judith Viorst, this is a sort of sweet pre-teen fairy tale. And with its very slim 81 minute running time, it’s not terrible. It’s not even horrible. Yet all this family friendly flick is… it is just okay.

Directed by Miquel Arteta (THE GOOD GIRL, YOUTH IN REVOLT), there is a very easy sensibility here. It is a briskly paced and lighthearted comedy that is pretty tame by today’s standards. In fact, there are even a handful of moments that are actually funny. However, this may simply be the fact that both Garner and Carell are just really good at this sort of humor. Occasionally ALEXANDER hits the mark with a couple of laugh-out-loud moments such as a fun cameo from Dick van Dyke at a bookstore reading from a children’s book that contains an unfortunate misprint. It’s a dumb joke, but still surprisingly effective. As Arteta builds to the inevitable – and predictable – climax, he is generally able to find a balance between the goofy childlike humor and the more touching, sentimental moments.

While I’ve not read the source material, the film is certainly geared towards a younger crowd. Playing it safe, and not relying on fart jokes, the adapted screenplay by Rob Lieber has a few bright spots. Older brother Anthony’s driving test is a modern day nightmare, and it features a very funny cameo from Jennifer Coolidge. However the bizarre addition of male strippers at a twelve-year-old boy's birthday party was a little odd. In fact, many of the jokes feel a bit uninspired including a school production of “Peter Pan” gone wrong. Were the parents this negligent in the books? Yes, this is all part of the joke but after a while it was damn near frustrating watching them make mistake after mistake after mistake.

While the story may have been a little silly, it helped that the cast is so darn amiable. As the put upon youth Alexander, Ed Oxenbould is able to carry this flick admirably. As well both Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey don’t come across nearly as mean and awful as they could have. Even the baby manages to steal a couple of scenes. As far as the parents, both Carell and Garner are charming and very amusing together. ALEXANDER is a sweet – if a little too heavy on the saccharine – and pleasant family that finds they are having a really terrible, horrible… yeah you get it. The story is dumb, but it is short enough to not feel too trapped taking your kids to the movies.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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6:38PM on 10/10/2014
Well, guess the name of the movie fits the quality of the movie.
Well, guess the name of the movie fits the quality of the movie.
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12:18PM on 10/10/2014
"the bizarre edition of male strippers" ? go back to school
"the bizarre edition of male strippers" ? go back to school
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4:17PM on 10/10/2014
That is a nice way to let us know. It's not rude or trollish at all.
That is a nice way to let us know. It's not rude or trollish at all.
+3
8:22AM on 10/10/2014

Looked terrible...

Glad to see it is. It just looked like a mess. The trailer was all over the place...and who cares about this kid and his terrible days or his perfect family who has one terrible day?
Glad to see it is. It just looked like a mess. The trailer was all over the place...and who cares about this kid and his terrible days or his perfect family who has one terrible day?
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7:31AM on 10/10/2014
In the book nobody gets set on fire or beaten up by a kangaroo. A kid just has a shitty, mundane day like getting gum in his hair and not getting the sneakers he wants. His parents tell him to suck it up everyone has bad days. It's charming because Alexander is a grump and he blows everything out of proportion. It's not about pratfalls and wacky hijinx. It's like some dingus at Disney liked the title and wanted to use it. I really like Miguel Arteta, but I feel sorry for him that he's doing
In the book nobody gets set on fire or beaten up by a kangaroo. A kid just has a shitty, mundane day like getting gum in his hair and not getting the sneakers he wants. His parents tell him to suck it up everyone has bad days. It's charming because Alexander is a grump and he blows everything out of proportion. It's not about pratfalls and wacky hijinx. It's like some dingus at Disney liked the title and wanted to use it. I really like Miguel Arteta, but I feel sorry for him that he's doing something like this. I'd like to see him doing more stuff like The Good Girl and Cedar Rapids instead of inane family pap.
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6:08AM on 10/10/2014
Kind of amusing. I read the book when I was like 4. It's maybe 20 pages, mostly pictures. No wishes and I believe the parents are mentioned, not seen. It's just about a kid's bad day. Almost a prequel to what the movie seems to be about. Sounds like an adaptation in title only, not that the book you could read in under 3 minutes has any need to be translated faithfully.
Kind of amusing. I read the book when I was like 4. It's maybe 20 pages, mostly pictures. No wishes and I believe the parents are mentioned, not seen. It's just about a kid's bad day. Almost a prequel to what the movie seems to be about. Sounds like an adaptation in title only, not that the book you could read in under 3 minutes has any need to be translated faithfully.
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2:56AM on 10/10/2014

Ugh, Disney.

This movie looks more dumb than a 5. I feel embarrassed for all involved.
This movie looks more dumb than a 5. I feel embarrassed for all involved.
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