Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

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Released:  Friday, October 10, 2014  
Length:  81 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Genre: Family
Rating: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of AmericaSome material may not be suitable for children.


Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day follows the exploits of 11-year-old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) as he experiences the most terrible and horrible day of his young life—a day that begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by one calamity after another. But when Alexander tells his upbeat family about the misadventures of his disastrous day, he finds little sympathy and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him. He soon learns that he’s not alone when his mom (Jennifer Garner), dad (Steve Carell), brother (Dylan Minnette) and sister (Kerris Dorsey) all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Anyone who says there is no such thing as a bad day just hasn't had one.

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

Watching Kelly Cooper (Jennifer Garner; Alias) navigate the daily grind of parenthood, I couldn't help but feel like the inspiration for this film (as many a mother/father out there will feel when watching it themselves).  Watching her bike through traffic in a race to reach Dick van Dyke before a (mis)reading of a children's book reminded me of my own race through mid-town Manhattan once upon a time.  In fact, many a declaration she makes throughout the film (I'm pretty certain) are direct quotes from my harried life with kids (boys in particular).  In reality, the inspiration can be found in the 1972 Judith Viorst classic children's literature, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  There is a reason that Viorst's original tale is beloved by many.  A timeless tale, it has been comically expanded upon for the big screen in a way that will resonate with every member of the family.

A behemoth of talent both in front of and behind the camera, Alexander is bound to be a blockbuster, Disney pixie dust sprinkled classic of a film with Director Miguel Arteta at the helm.  We're talking a fabulously funny, incredibly fun ride.  Strung together (perhaps, even apart), the events and mishaps are at once over the top and completely relatable.  Most of us have had days just like Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) and his family.  Well, maybe not eXACtly, but pretty close.  At least, we've had days that were bad enough that we feel like we've had days just like them (save for losing the car door during a driving test). 

Ed Oxenbould.  If you haven't seen (or heard) any of his work, you, undoubtedly, will.  Yes, he is a legacy from an Australian acting family.  He is also a brilliantly talented actor in his own right at the mere age of 13.  Oxenbould is Alexander Cooper in every nuance of his performance. 

Alexander meanders through a string of mishaps starting with the gum stuck in his hair when he wakes one school morning.  His day progresses through falling flat on his face (both literally and otherwise) in front of his crush before lighting her book on fire during science lab.  Plenty else happens that his smooth, popular, destined to be Duke of junior prom, older brother, Anthony (Dylan Minnette; Let Me In), could never possibly ever in this lifetime understand.  Certainly, his spectacular, star thespian sister, Emily (Kerris Dorsey; Moneyball) could never imagine.  His positively perfect (and perky) parents (Garner and Steve Carell) would never know.  Except that…

On the eve of his birthday, Alexander prepares himself a sundae to be had in solitude.  The clock magically strikes midnight as Alexander blows out his candle.  His wish?  Why, wishing that his family could and would for just one single solitary crushing day experience one flub after another, and truly empathize with him, of course!   Hilariously, they do all wind up having a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day which (SPOILER ALERT) only brings them together in the end.  They come together in a heartwarming sitcom family kind of way that makes us want our family to be just like them.  They're not too cool, but just enough.

Ben Cooper (Steve Carell; The Office) captures the struggle of so many parents who embrace the opportunity (chosen or otherwise) to be the primary stay at home parent.  Pick ups and drop offs.  Running out of diapers.  Culinary creativity (sometimes even successful).  Lack of fiduciary contributions.  He veers his family's vessel toward the bright side of any situation pointing out the opportunities on the horizon.  Kelly (Garner) embodies every working mom who must share her time, attention and energy elsewhere.  She captures what any mom feels when away from young children…that they are missing out, and dropping the ball.  Together, they are funny, nurturing and connected. 

A must mention is Jennifer Coolidge as Anthony's driving test examiner Ms. Suggs.  Although she's not in the film long, her performance, and the entire sequence in which she appears is literally laugh out loud! 

If you're a parent, been around kids, married, or just had a very bad day of epic proportions, you will find many laughs to share in this film. 

…in my humble opinion.


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