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

Director: Miguel Arteta

Starring: Jennifer Garner, Steve Carell, Jennifer Coolidge, Megan Mullally, Bella Thorne, Ed Oxenbould, Dylan Minnette

Rated: PG (rude humor including some reckless behavior and language)

Alexander’s day begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by more calamities. However, he finds little sympathy from his family and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him, his mom, dad, brother and sister – who all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

 

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

By Matt Greene

Disney’s trips into live-action comedy always have a consistent tone: bright, bubbly, bumbling, and inoffensive, with just the slightest hint of edge.  Alexander… is no different. If only its humor would land…and when it did, it wasn’t beat to death. Instead of spending any amount of time on a coherent story or a real purpose, it sways towards cheap, dumb humor. Alexander is the kind of nonsensical slapstick “family” comedy that kids will inevitably enjoy and forget, while parents will be forced to endure and forget.

Alexander is a preteen that has a bad but NORMAL day (popularity, girls, small chemistry fire); that same day, his family is celebrating some truly great developments (new job, best-selling book, first prom). Alex decides, out of spite or loneliness or something, that his misery deserves company, so he wishes for them to have a horrible day. And they do. And by the end of the movie, they are…a better family?! What’s the lesson in that?! If things aren’t going your way, then hope the people you love have it even worse?

The premise could’ve been solid: really push the over-the-top notion of this down-on-his-luck kid struggling to survive juxtaposed against a perfect and aloof family. They even hired some great performers that could’ve really gotten some genuine laughs. Unfortunately, most of these actors are completely wasted, and in the end, Alexander tries to have its cake and eat it too, half its toe in fantasy and the other half in sloppy reality. Maybe I’m asking too much from a kid’s film, but Alexander is a pointless and mostly laughless outing.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

 

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

By Cole Schneider

“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” tries be be two things. It tries to be funny and it tries to be sweet. That’s a far more noble goal than it sounds. How many recent live action family movies have even truly tried to be both? Without resorting to an excess of crass or adult humor, “Alexander” is indeed intermittently funny and sweet. It’s a movie about a 12 year-old boy that is actually on the right viewing level for a 12 year old. Still, a family film implies that the parents have to go with him and here the movie is exposed as childishly assembled.

The boy is charming enough as his family endures this no-good day, but his family is downright caricatured. Still, while the zaniness was off-and-on, it did have a cumulative effect as I laughed more and more as the story unfolded. And it’s charm–very much a false, contrived charm–remained somewhat felt by the end, even if it required me to force it to be so. It seems that the movie would have been better served as an above average Disney Channel Movie, when really, “Alexander” is indeed just a bad knock-off of better films from 20 years ago, but are no longer made today. It might not be as good as “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”, but it’s title is longer. How many films can say that?

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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