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MOVIE: ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY

STARRING: STEVE CARELL; JENNIFER GARNER; ED OXENBOULD, DYLAN MINNETTE; KERRIS DORSEY

DIRECTED BY: MIGUEL ARTETA

AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS

Although it has an exhausting title, the typical Disney chim-chim cheery moments, and is filled with so much cuteness you could puke, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (phew!) is a surprisingly fun time at the movies. Cynical film critics will call it fluff, mediocre, and playing it safe, but this film, based on the children’s book by Judith Viorst, is a breath of fresh air. Compared to the over-blown big budget failures we get at the theaters that are geared only for fanboys, here is a film you can take the whole family and they will enjoy. 

The film expands on the short book, much like many other films these days, and goes beyond just Alexander’s one bad day. It first sticks to the basics of the text. Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) wakes up the day before his birthday. He has gum in his hair, the popular kid at school is throwing a party the same day as his, he doesn’t get Australia for the school project that he wanted, and he has the luck of accidentally lighting the cute girl’s notebook on fire with a Bunsen burner. This is one bad day. 

To top it all off, Alexander goes home for dinner to hear about how great a day it was for his family, unemployed Dad- Ben (played charmingly by Steve Carell) gets a job interview he was hoping for, Mom- Kelly (Jennifer Garner) has the promise of becoming the VP of her publishing company, sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) is the lead in Peter Pan, and brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) has heard he will be crowned king of Junior Prom. Everyone is having a good day, except for Alexander. 

So, Alex feels left out and wishes on a single birthday cupcake that his family would all experience a bad day too. This leads to one heck of a bad day for everyone, but will also bring them closer together.

What director Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt; The Good Girl) does well is to never let the bad day get gross out disgusting. And that is what I liked about it all. I was expecting extreme poop jokes, and one accident after the next, but the pace of this film keeps it quick and snappy. At 81 minutes, you can take the kids to a movie at 6 and be home in time for Sunday night Football. 

The list of mishaps include: Emily getting sick then drinking too much cough syrup for her Pan performance, Anthony drastically failing his driver’s test- with a great cameo from Jennifer Coolidge as his Driver’s Ed. Instructor. Dad having to conduct his interview while the youngest baby eats a green marker resulting in a Kermit the frog mouth, and Mom dealing with a funny typo in a book that will be live-read by Dick Van Dyke. The madness goes on, but the family sticks together. 

Overall, Alexander– is worth the time and enjoyment for all who go. Is it typical Disney mush? Yeah, but with all the misery that goes on in the world, maybe we should all take the time to enjoy this very bad day. 

3 Stars

Written By: Leo Brady

leo@amovieguy.com   

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