Saturday, October 11, 2014

Movie Review: "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible No Good, Very Bad Day"

Movie"Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"
Director: Miguel Arteta
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 21 minutes
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The day before his 12th birthday, Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) is having a horrible day, including getting gum stuck in his hair and having photoshopped pictures of himself in a bikini texted to the entire school. He finds no sympathy from his mom Kelly (Jennifer Garner), his dad Ben (Steve Carell), his older brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette), and his older sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey), who have all had good things happening to them and are anticipating another perfect day tomorrow. At 12:01 the morning of his birthday, Alexander makes a wish that his family would know what it's like to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. It turns out, his wish may have come true, and though he is finally having a wonderful day, his entire family is not. Their morning starts by waking up late and ends with his sister sick, which ruins her chances at pulling off a marvelous play where she was cast as Peter Pan, his older brother zit-ridden on prom day, his mom late for work with a car that won't start, his dad forced to bring his little brother Trevor to a job interview, and his arch nemesis sick with the chicken pox. 

Have you ever had a bad day? Not just a bad day, but a bad day? Poor Alexander sure knows what it's like to have one or two of those. While most of the bad things that happen in this movie are relatively believable and could happen to any one of us (car trouble, zits, babysitters cancelling, etc), there are a few instances that would never happen and push over-the-top status. One glaring example of this is accidentally hiring the Thunder From Down Under guys for a children's party. Though Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner play parents who are oblivious to their kids and borderline stupid most of the time, we'd like to imagine that they'd never be as dumb and clueless as to read an advertisement that probably featured burly, top-heavy, muscle-bound jock-y Australians and think that they walked around telling their life stories of their time in the Outback for a living. This scene is highly unlikely and barely in the realm of possibility, as well as mildly inappropriate for a kid's movie, especially this one, which isn't all that inappropriate to begin with. The second the Thunder From Down Under guys waltzed onto the screen, BigJ and I knew instantly what and who they were without anyone even mentioning it. Also, if three strippers walked into what was clearly a child's birthday party, you'd think they wouldn't even attempt to stick around for cake, let alone a strip show. Was this placed in the film to appeal to the mothers who will be taking their kids to see this movie? Because knowing how people are in today's society, we can imagine the majority of them being pissed off, not turn on. Re-reading may seem a little nit-picky on our part, and it is, but with a parent who is supposed to be a rocket scientist, "how dumb can you be?" was the first thought that popped into our heads with most of the scenarios that occur to the kids.

This is not a bad movie, but it's not the best thing we've ever seen. It's not even the best family-friendly movie we have seen this month...or even this week, come to think of it. Both of us left the theater thinking that the best parts of the movie were given away in the trailer, minus one or two small bits here and there. We were saddened by this because the trailer was really good and made us intrigued and excited to see it, especially since I remember reading the book as a kid. The majority of the humor is very slapstick and is hit or miss most of the time, but cute enough for two adults to enjoy on a Thursday night with relatively low expectations. We love Steve Carell, and though he is the most charming part of the film, we prefer him in less family-oriented fare. The acting is nothing terrible and nothing great, it's just there to fuel the zany, screwball comedic mishaps that occur. Luckily, this movie is short, so it doesn't drag on or feel like you'd rather be having teeth pulled than spending some time with your kids. Some portions of the film could have been omitted, but then it would have only been an hour long.

While mildly amusing and semi-smile inducing, we would have liked to see more from this film, we just don't know what that "more" could have been. It's harmless enough to allow your kids to see it and has humor that strongly appeals to kids, yet remains enjoyable enough for the adults that accompany. Unfortunately, it's not anything to go out of your way to see if you're already having doubts about it.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 64%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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