Movie Review: Alexander and Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day (2014)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a 2014 American family comedy film directed by Miguel Arteta from a screenplay written by Rob Lieber. The film is loosely based on Judith Viorst’s 1972 children’s book of the same name. Co-produced by Shawn Levy and Lisa Henson for Walt Disney Pictures through their respective production companies, 21 Laps Entertainment and The Jim Henson Company, the film was released in North America on October 10, 2014.

Living in suburban Los Angeles, Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) often feels left out by his family: baby brother Trevor (Elise/Zoey Vargas); elder siblings Anthony (Dylan Minnette) and Emily (Kerris Dorsey); and their parents, Kelly (Jennifer Garner) and Ben (Steve Carell).

Anthony is trying to earn his driver’s license so he can drive his demanding and sharp-tongued girlfriend, Celia (Bella Thorne), to the junior prom; Emily is rehearsing for the title role in her Peter Pan school play; Kelly works for a publication company on a new children’s book which will get her promoted to vice-president of said company; Ben, who has been unemployed for seven months, has landed an interview for a job as a video game designer.

That morning, Alexander experiences a series of mishaps at school: he accidentally sets fire to his crush Becky Gibson’s notebook; his classmate Elliot sent a humiliating photoshopped image of him to the whole school; and he finds out that his friends – including Becky, and even his best friend Paul – will all be attending Philip Parker (Lincoln Melcher)’s birthday party, instead of Alexander’s, due to Philip’s expensive party entertainment and popularity. When he tries to tell his family about his bad day however, nobody is very sympathetic due to being focused on the good things happening to them. That night, Alexander puts a candle on a homemade birthday sundae. He wishes that everyone in his family could relate to what he is going through.

The next morning, Alexander wakes up to find the rest of his family in chaotic disarray: his parents have overslept; Emily has a cold from rehearsing in the car; Celia has broken up with Anthony, due to her overhearing and misinterpreting a conversation between the Cooper brothers the night before. Kelly’s car is dead, due to Emily’s having left the light on the previous night and draining the battery. Ben has to take Trevor with him to the interview, after dropping Kelly off at work. At school, Alexander learns that Philip’s birthday party has been canceled because Philip has chickenpox; Becky and Paul, along with all the other kids who had originally planned to attend Philip’s party, will attend Alexander’s party instead. Delighted, Alexander tells his father about Phillip and that Elliot had gotten busted for texting the school the photos of Alexander. He then excitedly asks his father Ben to plan a party for him. Meanwhile, Kelly is informed of an embarrassing typo in the book they are publicizing (“dump” instead of “jump”); she attempts to prevent Dick Van Dyke from reading it at a public event they have scheduled. Ben takes Trevor along to his interview; his prospective boss, Greg (Donald Glover), seems impressed by Ben’s credentials. However, they decide to hold another meeting, after Trevor ingests a non-toxic highlighter. Back at school, Anthony patches things up with Celia. He jumps up in excitement but accidentally hits a banner which is attached to two trophy cases, causing them to fall over and break, leading to his suspension.

Kelly arrives at Dick Van Dyke’s reading too late to warn him about the book’s typo. He then reads the inappropriate material, humiliating himself, shocking the audience, and almost getting Kelly arrested. Meanwhile, Ben purchases cough syrup for his ill daughter en route to the Department of Motor Vehicles; there Anthony’s driving examiner, Ms. Suggs, cruelly tricks him into taking his eyes off the road by using sarcasm to persuade him to answer his cell phone. This causes Anthony to destroy several parking meters, damage the family minivan, and miserably fail his driving exam. As the entire Cooper family bemoans their collective misfortunes, Alexander cuts in and admits his birthday wish to them. He apologizes for making everyone suffer the day they’ve had. Ben disagrees: the day is not ruined yet, because it isn’t over yet. Right then and there, the whole family resolves to stay as positive as they can.

After renting a tuxedo for Anthony, the Coopers go to Emily’s play, of which she makes a spectacular farce with her abnormally rambunctious behavior, after overdosing on extra-strength cough syrup and going out inebriated. The game-design firm calls and invites Ben to Nagamaki, a Japanese hibachi restaurant, for another meeting. The family, joined by Celia, head to the restaurant in their badly-damaged minivan. There, Ben accidentally sets his shirt-sleeves on fire at the grill, embarrassing himself in front of the employers. Ben’s wife and kids console him, vowing that they will overcome whatever else the day holds for them. Alexander also points out that “you gotta have bad days, so you can enjoy your good days even more”. Inspired by this, Anthony changes his mind about going to the prom with Celia; he states that his family is more important than she has given them credit for. The Coopers return home to find an alligator in their house from the petting zoo that Ben and Kelly planned for Alexander’s birthday. Alexander is excited, but the people setting up the pens tell them that a kangaroo escaped. As they manage to get the alligator in the pool, the kangaroo passes by, and Ben runs after it. Ben finds it in a neighbor’s yard, and the kangaroo kicks him. They manage to get it back to the house.

All of Alexander’s friends turn up for his birthday, including Becky. She says the party is pretty awesome. Ben and Kelly both get phone calls. Ben gets the job and Kelly is told that Dick Van Dyke’s reading of the book went viral, and that the book is already selling fast. Ben and Kelly look outside and see that their kids are enjoying themselves. They bring out a cake for Alexander. He makes a wish that there be more days like this one. Alexander finishes by saying that for a pretty bad day, this one turned out to be the best day ever.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I honestly hated this film. There was so much about it. I really didn’t find it funny at all. There were so many obvious editing mistakes as well it was just cringe worthy.

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