Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – Review

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Courtesy Walt Disney

Based on the children’s book by Judith Viorst, Ed Oxenbould stars as Alexander – a 10-year old who thinks he is the cursed one in his family.  Everyone else seems to be living a charmed life full of good luck and success, but poor Alexander always gets the short end of the stick, the gum in his hair or the alarm clock failing to go off.

Feeling sorry for himself, Alexander wakes up at midnight on his birthday to make himself an ice cream sundae. When he blows out the candle, the kid makes a wish that everyone else in his family experience life the way he does, and, with that, each one starts to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (henceforth just referred to as Alexander, because I cannot type that well at this late hour of the evening) is a throwback to the type of madcap, screwball, live action comedies Disney used to make for families, and it is a semi-successful return to form.

Alexander is a funny movie.  While the temptation exists for the slapstick comedy to become outrageously cartoonish, director Miguel Arteta walks a fine line between over-the-top and understated, which makes the kids laugh out loud and adults chuckle just as much without feeling guilty about it.  Frankly, I think the adults in my theater appreciated it more than the kids.

Oxenbould is a very strong lead and makes Alexander a likable kid instead of resorting to cloying and annoying.  No cheap laughs here as Oxenbould becomes the lovable underdog everykid who appeals to everyone who ever found himself or herself tripping and falling in front of the object of your affection or wondering why the world had it out for you.

Alexander’s other strength is the demographically friendly cast of characters and actors, each of which is to appeal to some member of the family in the audience.  Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner play the lovable parents with more patience than Gandhi, but each makes you laugh in a different way.

Carell is the warm father figure with positive advice at every turn, while Garner gets to have a bit more fun being the frazzled one.  Sure, Garner will get more laughs, but Carell wins over your heart.

Sadly, Alexander starts to drag and makes you wonder how many more bad things can happen to this family.  These guys have more bad luck than Charlie Brown trying to kick a football.

The movie becomes repetitive, but writer Ron Lieber tosses in plenty of positive messages about families pulling together and kids overcoming adversity, so, no matter how predictable it is, Alexander does leave you with a smile on your face because there is a sweet comforting tone to it all.

Some PG humor might not be acceptable for the youngest of kids, especially if you have to explain to them why certain dancers might need more parental instruction or you fear what the kid might do when he hears a certain crude term repeated over and over again.

2_5waffles_sml2 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, Not Good Very Bad Day is rated PG for rude humor including some reckless behavior and language.

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