Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is exactly what you’d expect based upon the title. A series of annoying events unfold upon a family throughout the entirety of one day. No genuine catastrophes occur. Nothing that happens is offensive, and very little sticks to the wall. But your kids will enjoy it, and you won’t hate it (too much).
The film is adapted from the popular children’s book by Judith Viorst. It’s a tiny-ass book, but there’s plenty of filler material here to draw out the inevitable mayhem. The result is a slapstick-filled farce, and those are rarely good or memorable. This movie is no exception, but it’s quick and breezy, if not altogether painless.
Eleven-year-old Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) is about to turn 12. He’s begrudgingly looking towards a lame birthday because his parents are busy, and his siblings have better things to do. Alexander already had a pretty bad day the day before his birthday, so the night before, he loses his patience and ends up wishing for some not-so-subtle hellfire (in the form of a curse) upon his family so that they too will know what a terrible day feels like.
Alexander gets his wish and then some.
To be fair, the Cooper family kind of deserves what they get because they’re all jerks for not paying attention to their kid’s birthday. Dad (Steve Carell) is an unemployed dork. Mom (Jennifer Garner) is a flighty idiot. There’s a baby that makes a lot of noise. Car problems, pimples, fire, pratfalls, a prom, a school play, gum stuck in hair, and a few bodily functions (but not too many) wreak havoc. Don’t expect this stuff to be funny because there’s no rhyme, reason, or order of events. Crap simply happens in rapid succession to the family. Alexander’s curse sets up a line of dominoes that dutifully descend into a pit of moderate mayhem.
The disasters aren’t even that riveting.The movie ticks off the boxes, and the family members act appropriately exasperated. By the end of the day, lessons are learned. Everything ends neatly in an inoffensive, sloppily-tied bow by the time credits roll. And the movie looks forward to a hopeful sequel.
The cast does their time. Jennifer Coolidge stands out as a bright spot as a DMV official, although it’s difficult to get too angry at Steve Carell because he’s so earnest. And Jennifer Garner is a good enough sport throughout all of this movie’s ordeals. This isn’t the type of movie that adult actors enjoy filming. It’s a paycheck film, but these three earned their dough.
Anyway, this mess doesn’t last too long. The terrible, no-good day swiftly comes to an end as quickly as it began. I wouldn’t bother paying to watch this in the theater. It’s better as a rental. Since it’s a Disney movie, it will play on cable in less than a year. This slice of frenetic boredom isn’t worth it unless your kids are super bored, or you want to watch someone else having a worse day than yourself. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is harmless fluff. It’s not terrible or very bad, but it’s no good.
Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She can be found at Celebitchy.