A lot of family-friendly movies struggle with being entertaining for both the kids and the adults. Disney has usually gotten it right in the past, and does so now with the youth book-to-film adaptation Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, a sweet family comedy anchored by Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner, and is funny, cute, and entertaining in all the right ways.
Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bad day every day. He’s always down on his luck, the girl he likes doesn’t give him a lot of attention, and his 12th birthday party is coming up but is going to be overshadowed by another classmate’s fog-machine, energy drink bar, and trampoline party. And out of everything, Alexander gets the most annoyed with his family, who don’t seem to understand the extent of his bad days since they’re apparently, according to his brother, “#blessed”.
So the night before Alexander’s 12th birthday, and on a day that’s supposed to bring big things for his family, he makes a wish that just once, his family would know what it’s like to have a bad day like him. The next day, everything imaginable goes wrong for his family (who include Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey). There is a lot of running around, fire, a driving test gone completely wrong, a book reading disaster, and a high on cold medicine rendition of Peter Pan. Somehow, the Coopers have to pull it all together in time for Alexander’s birthday.
While the title is a bit of a mouthful, the film is family-friendly fun at its best. It’s even sure to please those without families, because the movie at its most basic is genuinely funny and cute. With a run time of only 81 minutes, the film gets straight to the point, but never feels rushed. The plot is simple and there’s enough craziness going on, which is thankfully not at all forced or contrived just for laughs.
Ed Oxenbould is cute as Alexander. The way he talks and acts makes you understand his frustration with his everlasting string of bad luck. Steve Carell is the silly funnyman whose streak of positivism holds up the family, and Jennifer Garner’s got the “mom smile” but really shines when she’s aggravated and gets frustratingly aggressive, which is hilarious. Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey are great supports and flaunt a personality of their own without slinking quietly into the background. Dick van Dyke and Jennifer Coolidge make fantastic cameos and really make the movie more fun.
It’s very hard not to like this film. It’s energetic, filled with silly, genuine fun, and has humorous beats that will make you smile and possibly laugh out loud. Its long title gets a shout out not once, but twice in the film, which is a major accomplishment given the fact that it’s easy to jumble up the words. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is sincerely funny and manages to have a moral to its story, while being entertaining fun for the whole family.