ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY:
A DELIGHTFUL FAMILY COMEDY FULL OF HEART AND LAUGHS!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B- (3 stars)
From director Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt, Cedar Rapids) and producer Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Date Night, This Is Where I Leave You) comes a film adaptation of the children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst. I remember reading the book once as a kid but completely forgot about it over the year, then I heard about the movie and I suddenly remembered it.
Since it’s been years since I read the book, I’m not sure how accurate the movie is, but as a film on its own, it’s a very funny and charming family movie. Sure it has a lot of childish humor that probably won’t appeal to the adults but there are plenty of clever jokes and gags in there that is sure to get a big laugh out of you.
The film is about an 11-year-old boy named Alexander (Ed Oxunbould) who experiences a bad day on a daily basis. Whether it’s gum stuck in his hair, tripping on a sprinkler, or setting the science lab on fire at school, his life sucks.
His father, Ben (Steve Carell-The Office, Despicable Me, Bruce Almighty), mother, Kelly (Jennifer Garner-Alias, 13 Going on 30, Juno), older brother, Anthony (Dylan Minnette-Let Me In, Prisoners, Labor Day), older sister, Emily (Kerris Dorsey-Walk the Line, Just Like Heaven, Moneyball), and baby brother seem to have perfect days all the time and are happy. Suddenly on his 12th birthday he makes a wish that his family could experience a bad day like he has.
The next morning Alexander’s family hits the Hilarity Express, they oversleep, Ben gets attacked by a kangaroo, Emily has a cold and cannot perform at a school play, Anthony hilariously fails his driving test, the wrong print of Kelly’s children’s book she was writing accidentally gets published, and lots of baby trouble. So it’s up to Alexander to explain to his family that a bad day is just a bad day, not a massive catastrophe and sometimes we need the bad days, so we can enjoy the good days even more.
The film also stars Sidney Fullmer, Disney Channel’s Bella Thorne (Shake It Up, Good Luck Charlie, Phineas and Ferb), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie, A Cinderella Story), Donald Glover (The Muppets), and a funny cameo by Dick Van Dyke (The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Poppins, Night at the Museum).
Overall, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is decent family entertainment; there’s enough slapstick and poop jokes for the kiddies and plenty of smart humor for the adults that’s just as funny. However some of the jokes are pretty adult, this is probably the first time I’ve ever heard boob and penis jokes in a Disney movie, but thankfully they’re very mild and it’s nothing too extreme.
Sure not every joke works, I didn’t find the film to be a comedy masterpiece or anything like that and to be honest I started laughing hard when Alexander’s family started experiencing a bad day, I’ve never laughed so hard at a family comedy in a long time, it’s probably thanks to the comedic chemistry by Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner.
If you’re a fan of the original book, you may enjoy the film but just don’t expect it to be exactly like the book. Also, if you’re looking for family fun and don’t want to see The Boxtrolls a second time, you may find something enjoyable in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.