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.
Talk about a challenge. Based on the classic children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day takes a 32 page book and stretches it into an 80 minute film. Even with that relatively short runtime, though, Alexander feels like it’s stretched thin. Expanding upon the book’s story of a young boy’s rotten day, the film essentially sidelines Alexander in favor of his family’s wide range of misfortunes.
Alexander may blame himself for making a wish that his family would know what he goes through, but it’s really a building problem that’s evident before the day begins. The rundown of the day’s big events: father Ben has a job interview, mother Kelly has an event that could lead to a promotion, brother Anthony has prom and sister Emily has the lead in a play. And, of course, it’s Alexander’s birthday. It’s no wonder things go wrong. Talk about an unusual convergence of events. It’s the sort of thing that only happens in the movies.
Though they don’t redeem the movie, Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner bring a certain charm and believability to their roles as the parents of the family. The supporting cast of adults also includes brief appearances from comic talent such as Megan Mullally, Donald Glover, Jennifer Coolidge and Dick Van Dyke.
It’s good they’re involved, because the children are hard to watch. Minnette and Dorsey come across as minor (read: less talented) Disney go-to cast members. Oxenbould, meanwhile, nails the pitiful part of Alexander, but is hard to buy when Alexander becomes his family’s cheerleader during the day.
Ultimately, this is the sort of inoffensive family-friendly comedy that parents sometimes look for, but this is one better left to watching at home. Other kid-friendly films are either out now or are coming in the next few weeks that look more promising.