30 November, 2014

Review: "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" (***½)

Steve Carrell, Ed Oxenbould, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, and Kerris Dorsey
star in "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."

It’s a truly delightful little story. Director Miguel Areta's ("The Good Girl," "Youth In Revolt," a bunch of episodics) "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" is fun, sweet, and wholesome and fully supports my theory that children’s movies are becoming more engaging and entertaining for their adult viewers. I own hundreds of DVDs, but I’m very particular about which ones I choose buy. I buy them, typically, for two reasons: one, because I want to know how it’s made and the DVD offers invaluable commentary; and two, because I think I’ll watch it over and over and over again. I think that “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” falls into the latter category. It was that fun and enjoyable of a movie. Frankly, I don’t know why I liked this film as much as I did, I really don’t. There’s certainly nothing spectacular about it; there won’t be (nor should there be) any Oscar buzz or nominations; there wasn’t an extraordinary breakout performance. I think what it comes down to is just good, old-fashioned-fun. And there are few things in this world more delightful than the sound of children laughing. So the theatre ambiance probably aided in my taking to this movie.

I saw “Alexander…” with two friends of mine on a Wednesday at 7:05 PM quite a few weeks after the movie was originally released. We made bets on how many people would be in the theatre, and to my very pleasant surprise, there were many more folks in attendance than I anticipated. I’d say there were about fifteen people in the audience. And upon leaving, my friend commented that she couldn’t remember laughing that often and that consistently about a movie. And she’s right. I laughed consistently. And when I wasn’t laughing, I was absolutely smiling.

The plot itself is very obvious and very similar to that of “Liar Lair,” another comedy that I sincerely enjoyed. A young boy, in this case, Alexander, on his twelfth birthday, wishes that his perfect family would experience what it means to live a day in the life of Alexander, a young boy whose a frequent inhibitor of the 'terrible, horrible, no good, very bad' kind of days.

This movie doesn’t do what I find most children’s films do in the way that it tries to teach a lesson. There’s no extreme character evolution, no heavy-handed lesson on morality and right-and-wrong. It wasn’t overly sentimental. The only thing this movie tells us is that everyone has bad days, and that you just have to work your way through them.

Steve Carell, as an actor, isn’t nearly as robust with his humor as typically expected but is fun to watch nonetheless. The lead, Alexander (played by newcomer Ed Oxenbould) was charismatic and believable enough as a down-on-his-luck pre-teen. It was nice to see Jennifer Garner on the big screen again; I can’t honestly remember the last time that happened.

You don’t need to see this in theatres, but I’d certainly see it at some point; it’s just delightful.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Refreshing because it's not the typical (in contrast to Liar, Liar) Dad is dumb, incompetent, makes mistakes and many other character flaws and we the family all have to deal with it. Every character has there moments, not just Dad. Totally refreshing to see a whole family have their bad moments and the family deal with it.