Alexander’s no good, very bad day makes an OK movie

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Everybody has bad days. You push through them, and usually — hopefully — things get better.

That was the lesson of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” Judith Viorst’s 1972 children’s book. The film version uses Viorst’s 32-page book and blows it up, barely, into an 80-minute movie. The same ground is covered, and if the movie is a piffle, it’s at least an enjoyable, inoffensive one.

Alexander (Ed Oxenbould, whose real kid qualities are an asset) has a rough day, one where nothing goes his way, but he gets no sympathy from his family members, who are all enjoying happy times. His stay-at-home father (Steve Carell) has just landed a big job interview, his publisher mother (Jennifer Garner) has a best-seller on deck, his sister (Kerris Dorsey) has the lead role in the school play, and his brother (Dylan Minnette) is about to be named Prom King. On the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish that they all would have as bad a day as he does. As these movies go, he gets his wish.

Nothing is so bad that it can’t be undone. There’s a typo in mom’s book, his sister gets a cold. “Alexander” plays things family-friendly, bringing a comedic tone and a light touch. Alexander didn’t really want his family members to suffer — only for them to pay a little more attention to him. You won’t be surprised to learn the film ends with hugs.

From “Chuck & Buck” to “Cedar Rapids,” director Miguel Arteta has spent his time toiling on small, character-driven indie films. Here, he goes for broad and generic, but it’s what the material calls for. “Alexander” won’t change your day, but it’s not terrible, horrible, no good or very bad, either.



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


Rated PG for rude humor including some reckless behavior and language

Running time: 80 minutes