Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day: Stick to the book - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day: Stick to the book

2 out of 4 stars

Without Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day would have been well, terrible and horrible. (Courtesy of Disney)

Without Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day would have been well, terrible and horrible. (Courtesy of Disney)

It’s not easy being Alexander Cooper.

He wakes up with bubble gum in his hair, gets made fun of on social media and learns the girl he has a crush on (Sidney Fullmer) and his best friend (Mekai Matthew Curtis) won’t be attending his birthday party.

Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) certainly isn’t having a good day, which is why the movie is called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.

Title sound familiar? It should, as the movie is an adaptation of Judith Viorst’s 1972 book of the same name, the one that’s sold more than four million copies and spawned three sequels.

But Alexander isn’t alone in wishing he’d just stayed in bed, as his family members are also experiencing plenty of bad luck. Alexander’s father, Ben, played by the always witty Steve Carell, is out of work and trying to play Mr. Mom and send out resumes at the same time. Mom Kelly (Jennifer Garner) provides humor trying to juggle the responsibilities of being an executive at a publishing company with her family’s needs.

Throw in Alexander’s older teenage brother, Anthony (Dylan Minnette), who’s focused on making his snooty girlfriend (Bella Thorne) happy, and an older sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) who would be a sponge if she wasn’t anymore self absorbed, and there’s plenty of Cooper calamity for everyone. And of course, baby Trevor does what a baby does best: cry.

As the title of the movie suggests, the Cooper family isn't having  a very good day at all in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day . (Courtesy of Disney)

As the title of the movie suggests, the Cooper family isn’t having a very good day at all in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day . (Courtesy of Disney)

Director Miguel Arteta and Screenwriter Rob Lieber were challenged to turn a 32-page book that’s more than four decades old into a movie. They succeed on some levels, especially how they extended Alexander’s miserable day to include his entire family, as his birthday wish of having them go through a day where nothing seems to go right provides plenty of comedic material.

Oxenbould isn’t good enough to carry this movie by himself, which is why it had to become a family affair, similar to 2003’s Freaky Friday – another movie based off a book published in 1972 that was probably better left on the shelf. In that film, Jamie Lee Curtis carried Lindsay Lohan so much she should have been given a massage. In Alexander, Carell and Garner do the heavy lifting.

Carell, as expected, steals the show, as he’s made a career of being funny without acting like a total clown, while Garner will make you smile throughout her slapstick performance in yet another Disney comedy that’s banking on parents bringing their kids to the theater.

But you know what isn’t funny? Paying prime movie prices to see this film.

It’s funny, but not funny enough to pay $12 a ticket for an 81-minute movie. It’s good, but not good enough to warrant seeing over “Gone Girl,” “The Equalizer,” “This Is Where I Leave You” and “A Walk Among The Tombstones.”

Let’s be honest: The trailer for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day made this movie look so cheesy it may as well have “Redbox” written all over it.  But thank goodness for Carell and Garner, who prevent a timeless book from being a terrible, horrible, no good very bad movie.


About the author

Jon Gallo

Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game. Contact the author.
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