ByJon Negroni, writer at
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Jon Negroni

Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner are no strangers to comedy, but Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is certainly a different change of format for the seasoned actors.

This is, after all, a family film that touts just as many child stars from the Disney Channel universe as it does laughs.

And with an actor like Carell, who is famously selective with his projects, it's interesting to see him play the role of a father you could easily see on a Disney Channel show, and do so believably.

The real star of the film, however, is not Carell or Garner (though they certainly do the heavy lifting). Alexander stars relative newcomer Ed Oxenbould as the titular character: the middle child of the Cooper family.

But Alexander is the Cooper who typically has terrible days, while his siblings and parents seem to have the idyllic life compared to him.

The other kids at school play pranks on Alexander (including a hilariously done selfie that reeks of modern day hijinks in the age of prepubescent texting), the object of his affections (played by Sydney Fullmer) barely notices him and of course, he accidentally sets the lab at school on fire.

Meanwhile, Alexander's family experiences nothing but good days, it seems. His mother is on the brink of a new promotion, his dad has an exciting job interview coming up and his siblings are excelling at school and dating.

Fed up with not being understood by his family, Alexander "wishes" that they would experience a bad day for once. And this sets off the "day" of the movie where everything goes terribly wrong for the Coopers, minus Alexander (who has a good day for once).

That's not to say the movie is only about Alexander and his own world. The movie is very much about each Cooper, especially Ben (played by Steve Carell) who makes it his duty to make this horrible day a good one for his kids and wife.

But throughout the movie, we witness a beating on the Coopers that is almost painful to watch. Though this is ultimately a testament to how quickly we sympathize with the characters (even if the development is admittedly a bit uneven). It's pretty hard to root against the parents, but it's quite easy to laugh at the misfortunes of Alexander's smug brother and sister.

The movie is good for a few laughs, and it certainly has something to love for Carell and Garner fans. It strays from edgy and offensive humor (save for one scene that will probably go over most of the heads of kids in the audience) and instead favors physical, outlandish situations at the expense of its characters.

It's a family comedy that follows a familiar — but not overdone — formula that will likely make you smile. It's not a milestone in the career of Carell or Garner, but it's evidence that they can make a Disney movie without hurting their credit as dramatic actors. We'll see that firsthand when Carell's next film, Foxcatcher, debuts in November.

Is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day worth watching?

For fans of lighthearted comedies and family movies, this is certainly a film worth taking them to see, especially since the running time is incredibly short (in a good way). And I can see it being a fun option when parents search for the film on their local Redbox.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad opens in theaters October 10, 2014.


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