Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (or just Alexander, for short) is a just fine family movie. It’s really hard to say almost anything about the movie. It’s not potentially offensive, like Free Birds, and not poorly thought out, like Turbo. It’s also not mind-cripplingly amazing, like The Lego Movie. It’s actually more exactly in the middle—good, inoffensive, clean fun.
And it must be hard to make good, inoffensive, clean fun. I was actually impressed by the end of the movie’s jaunty 80 minutes how everything was okay. It’s really hard to make something great, but it’s also really easy to make weird unfortunate missteps, and Alexander makes almost none.
The movie centers around Alexander (Ed Oxenbould), the third out of four children in his family, who seems to be the only person the family for whom things aren’t going great. His mom (Jennifer Garner) has a kid’s book publication on the way, and if things go well, could be promoted to vice president of her company; his dad (the ever-charming Steve Carrell), unemployed for seven months, finally has a job interview; and his siblings Anthony and Emily (Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey) have a big prom date and big school play coming up, respectively.
So, on the night of his 12th birthday, Alexander wishes that everyone else in his family would know what it’d be like to have a day as bad as his—and lo and behold, his wish comes true.
The movie’s structure, then, is to clip between one calamity and the next, never lingering on one long enough for it to get tiring. The movie becomes a kind of guessing game of What Bad Thing’s Gonna Happen Next, but the shortness ...1
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Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
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