Synopsis – Alexander’s day begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by more calamities. Though he finds little sympathy from his family and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him, his mom, dad, brother, and sister all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
My Take – This film is a thoroughly pleasant affair, greatly reminiscent of the kinds of family films (mainly by Disney itself), the 90s generation of kids grew up with. It maintains a right balance of humor to remain surprisingly mature & good enough to appeal to kids of all ages. The biggest problem with children’s films nowadays is their impulsion to include extremely unnecessary amounts of bathroom humor & awful situational comedy. The story is pretty simple & follows the Cooper family, the father – Ben (Steve Carell), who is seeking a new job, the mother – Kelly (Jennifer Garner), an author of children’s books, the kids – Anthony (Dylan Minnette), the oldest of the couple’s siblings, looking to get his license and attend prom with his inconsiderate, stuck-up girlfriend (Bella Thorne), Emily (Kerris Dorsey), who is looking forward to her starring role in “Peter Pan,” the couple’s infant toddler, in love with his bumblebee pacifier, and, finally, twelve-year-old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould).
After Alexander suffers a bad day, he makes a wish that his family could suffer the same fate for one day and the wish, magically, comes true. For starters, everybody wakes up late with their own individual problem, and the worst possible circumstances plague this family so much so that Emily can only label the day as “cursed” over and over again. The film never tries to delude itself by justifying the events of the day as being some sort of “learning experience” or having the characters incessantly “look on the bright side” of things. The characters have no qualms admitting that the day has sucked, and little to no elements concerning self-delusion are ever proposed. This is a simple film, as the disasters befalling Alexander’s parents and siblings mount up, but one which is often very funny and which has a heartfelt message, albeit an obvious one. It’s a little bit rude in places (if you can call Dick Van Dyke encouraging kids to take a dump in inappropriate circumstances rude), & sometimes oversteps the crude boundary in terms of how childish its dialog wants to be.I was also pleased to see two parents who are not “stupid”. Both the father and mother are intelligent and hard working and are doing their best to make a bad day better for their kids. Call it sentimental if you wish, but for those of us with family experiences I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how entertaining and touching this film is. Steve Carell is of course the main attraction of the film and he plays the likable and sweet father pretty well. In what can only be described as his Life With Dan role, meets the office. Carell is both serious and silly in this film, teaching life lessons but acting like a big goof at others.
It is funny at points, but it lacked the kick from his other works that I thoroughly enjoyed in the past. Jennifer Garner is still as cute as ever, but I wasn’t impressed with her role in this film. She did a good job with the mother role, very protective and guilty of putting career before family. However, I felt she took a major back seat to the rest of the family, and a little cheated in her stories overall. The kids performances also vary from being likeable to annoying. On the whole ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ is a film that has comedy but isn’t just little jokes or things that are commonly seen in lots of normal comedies but, unique and creative comedy that is really funny. The actors are all well suited to their roles and, something I love about this film is that the ending is not easily predictable. Also, the story is created in such a way that the comedy is just a part of the story. The creators managed to get a very important message through to the audience, in the form of a young kids film that can actually be enjoyed with your family.