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

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day photo starrating-3stars.jpgYou got to give the producers of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day points for chutzpah. They took a 32 page picture book about nothing more than a boy who has a bad day and stretched it into a feature film. Its moral? Life is full of unfortunate events. First published in 1972, the title has since sold over four million copies. It’s safe to say it’s now considered a literary classic, but I hold the work in less enthusiastic regard. The Alexander of the text is a sulking brat that pouts from life’s drawbacks with which he is beset. These include: no prize in his cereal box, not getting a window seat in the car and a teacher that doesn’t fawn over his drawing of an invisible castle. He turned in a blank piece of paper for goodness sakes!

Thankfully screenwriter Rob Lieber has significantly expanded on the book’s flimsy premise. For one, the pitfalls that Alexander encounters really are things to justifiably get upset over. For instance, all of his friends are skipping his birthday for a more popular student’s party. That’s legitimately painful. To add insult to injury, everyone else in his family is living a charmed life of perfection. So much so that they seem oblivious to his woes. After having a particularly horrendous day, he retreats to his bedroom with a cupcake. Tomorrow is his birthday. On lighted candle, he wishes that his family could understand his plight by also having a bad day like him. Any bets on whether he’ll get his wish?

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a pleasant comedy that earns its laughs from slapdash shenanigans. This is comedy at its most basic form. I’m surprised no one actually slipped on a banana peel or threw a pie in someone’s face. Bad things happening to people has been the basis for many comedies: The Out of Towners, Home Alone, etc. The cast gamely registers discomfort in awkward situations with amusing results. Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner embellish this production with star power as the parents. Even Dick Van Dyke shows up in a funny bit playing himself. Let’s be realistic. The repetitive screenplay would be more at home as a made for TV movie on the Disney channel than as a cinematic event. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. I mean High School Musical captivated millions. I had pretty low expectations given the source book and they were exceeded. This is a decent picture that entertains just enough to make it passable time filler. It’s fast paced and breezes by in a scant 80 minutes. If you’ve got little ones to entertain, this should fit the bill.

10-11-14

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9 Responses to “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”

  1. Yeah this sounds like a better idea than reading the book. Interesting, by the sounds of it they use Alexander’s initial interpretation of life being kinda crappy as a bridge into him wishing the crappiness on his family? That’s actually an interesting way to bridge acts 1 and 2. How the conclusion is handled, i bet is nothing short of cliche and generic. But these aren’t the things one should really expect out of a movie titled like this.

    Nice work

  2. I am saving all my tolerance for this kind of thing until I actually HAVE kids and there’s no choice.

    • Ha ha. It’s not worth going to the theater to see but I’ve seen worse kids’ movies – even during this year in fact. Mr. Peabody & Sherman is one example.

  3. Such a simple movie. Had a lot of fun watching this. I agree this could have been a Disney channel special. Kids will love it. 3 stars

  4. martin250 Says:

    the premise reminds me a little bit of Liar Liar, where a boy makes a birthday wish and it magically happens. i like pleasant comedies so will most likely watch this.

    • Yes the critic writing for rogerebert.com mentioned that movie too. This film lacks Jim Carrey’s manic energy so it feels rather different. This one is much more family friendly.

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