Dr. Donna Copeland’s
STEVE CARRELL JENNIFER GARNER ED OXENBOULD
DYLAN MINNETTE KERRIS DORSEY MEGAN MULLALLY
And the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
For an adult, without children, live action Disney films can be torture, sort of like those awful Adam Sandler films where he aims to please a living room full of families with buttered fingers, big bellies and plastic WalMart shopping bags everywhere. Alexander is certainly aiming for the same crowd but with highlights in family togetherness, the nearly guilty enjoyment of watching optimists suffer a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, this wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.
For his 12th birthday wish, Alexander is coming off a very bad day, which is made worse by hearing about his parents wonderful day, his brothers amazing girlfriend and upcoming drivers liscense test followed by his sister’s Peter Pan rehersal, only to be topped off my losing more and more attention to his infant brother. His wish is that everyone else experience a bad day like he usually does. The next morning the bad begins for everyone and just keeps on going. While the Cooper family takes it in strides, they smile through all the difficulties and are reminded that as a family they can turn even the worst days into something wonderful.
Alexander certainly takes advantage of the absence of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid films, assuming that target audience. The pray falls don’t seem as over processed as usual and even though Garner and Carrell have been known to deliver some real stinker films, surprisingly they are tolerable (except for that embarrassing to watch, stereotypical Carrell scene where he catches himself on fire). The script (and obviously the children’s book from which it’s based) uses trendy words like “Famey” (meaning father mommy) or “text bomb”, corny phrases that will age this film before it even hits DVD.
We can all be thankful for the short running time, as thee characters don’t have much to offer beyond their annoying smiles and delicacy dealing with the most absurd befuddlements. Director Miguel Arteta is pretty familiar with these kind of obnoxious material, following up the equally dismissible Cedar Rapids. Alexander isn’t aiming for the higher learning, intelligent or sophisticated family movie night (they would be watching something like Boyhood), nor is it opening up dialogue for parents to talk about the material and learn something, this Disney film like most of the others is just taken at face value.
Final Thought – “Families” (and no one else) should enjoy watching the Cooper’s endure and survive a bad day.
By: Dustin Chase
As with many children’s movies, this film does overkill in a big way. One major catastrophe after another starts first with Alexander’s (Ed Oxenbould) bad day one day before, then everyone else’s the next day. The whole movie is in hyper mode, with crashes, fires, misunderstandings, misprints, vomit, poop, and anything else the filmmakers could think up. Getting pelted with all this for 81 minutes was exhausting; not funny.
Other aspects of the plot I didn’t like was how mean adults like teachers, employers, and driving administrators are portrayed, especially toward kids, and the sheer incompetence of the adults. The only redeeming part of the action is the solidarity of the Cooper family and their occasional goofiness. The film also brought home some good points, such as it’s OK to be sad, frustrated, and disappointed; being upbeat through turmoil is not necessarily a good thing. Another good point is the portrayal of the teen romance around prom night. The “most popular girl in school” feels no compunction about making demands on Alexander’s brother, and his way of resolving the issue was rewarding to see.
I can also say that the acting, especially that of Ed Oxenbould (Alexander), is another strong point. Steve Carell and Jennifer Gardner perform at their usual high level, and the actors playing the two older kids—Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey—are obviously talented. Although I didn’t like the character Megan Mullally plays, she, too, does a fine job.
If I fault anyone, it would be the director, Miguel Arteta, and the producers who created what I’m sure they thought would be a hilarious Disney movie. My understanding of the book by Judith Viorst on which the film is based contains bad things of the ordinary variety, which are more plausible. The filmmakers chose much more preposterous happenings that, to me, makes the film rather ludicrous.
For those who like their comedy mean and over the top.
By Donna R. Copeland