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

Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Zoey/Elise Vargas, Kerris Dorsey, Dylan Minnette and Ed Oxenbould portray a family enduring a very bad day in a big-screen adaptation of Judith Viorst's 1972 children's book, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." Photo by: Dale Robinette. ©2013 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is full of hysterics and chaos during every minute of the film.

After having one of the worst days ever, Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) doesn’t get any sympathy from his family members. What does he decide to do when making a wish upon a birthday cupcake? He wishes for his family to have a similar day to his. This is where the movie starts going into full-on hysterics and doesn’t let up until the credits roll.

For Alexander’s parents, stay-at-home-father Ben (Steve Carell) and breadwinner Kelly (Jennifer Garner), brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette), sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey), and baby Trevor (Elise Vargas and Zoey Vargas), anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Anthony sees his prom night get ruined after breaking up with his girlfriend, being suspended from school, and failing his driver’s test. Hey, if you’re going to fail your driving test, who better than Jennifer Coolidge to be the one to fail you, right? Meanwhile, his sister is performing as Peter Pan in an 8th grade production while taking too much cough syrup after waking up with a cold. His mom has to deal out from the fallout of a children’s book reading featuring Dick Van Dyke. One typo (dump instead of jump) makes a big different and my stomach is hurting just thinking about it!

The big challenge with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is adapting the book. It’s 32 pages long. What this means is the first act of the film contains what is in the book. Everything that happens on the second day is completely new but contains the book’s spirit. It’s a challenge but the filmmakers rise up for the occasion. I love that they decide to involve Alexander’s family. It’s one bad thing after another while chaos ensues. One of the things I like about this decision is that the family has each other’s backs. It’s a quality that throws things back to the John Hughes movies. Sure, there are some aspects of his films that don’t age well. However, there’s something to be said about families that support each other.

In 2014, the Miguel Arteta-directed film became the first feature film adaptation of the Judith Viorst book. The classic 1972 children’s book had previously been adapted an animated HBO musical and a stage musical. It also brought about the big-screen debut of Ed Oxenbould, who would later star in Wildlife. Arteta and Garner reteamed for Yes Day, which Netflix released last year. It’s funny–I found myself think of Yes Day while watching this one! Arteta shows that his brand of filmmaking works for both indie films and studio comedies.

Listen, this isn’t the perfect film. Is there really a perfect film? But anyway, with everything going on in the world, I just wanted to watch a film where a family is having the worst day of their lives. Anything that can go wrong in this film…will go wrong in this film. That’s just the way it is and there’s nothing more to it. I didn’t go into this film thinking it would be an Oscar winner and there’s nothing wrong with that. It was my birthday film of choice back in 2014 and almost seven and a half years later, there are still scenes that have me laughing uncontrollably while viewing the film. The driver’s license test especially being one of them! Jennifer Coolidge is a comic genius and so there’s nothing but uncontrollable laughter!

DIRECTOR: Miguel Arteta
CAST: Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxenbould, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey, Megan Mullally, Jennifer Coolidge, Bella Thorne

Disney released Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in theaters on October 10, 2014.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.