A Look At Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

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Let’s face it we’ve all had bad days.  Some terrible.  Some horrible.  Some just plain no good.  And others still very bad.  But what if one day you were faced with a day so awful that all those things got combined together and it was a day that just kept getting worse and worse.  That’s the basic premise behind the 1972 children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  A movie adaptation of the film by Disney opens in theaters today, October 10, 2014, and it provides us with a look at not one, but rather two very bad days in the life of Alexander.

This really turns out to be a smart move, as in the past others have tried to focus solely on the bad day described in the book.  However writer Rob Lieber, and indie superstar director Miguel Arteta choose instead to quickly move past that bad day and instead focus the movie on the day after – which also turns out to be Alexander’s birthday.  While there’s no actual magic portrayed in this movie, at the end of his really bad day as it becomes his birthday Alexander makes a wish that his family could know what it’s like to have a bad day also.

From there you can only begin to imagine some of the mayhem that ensues.  It’s clear from watching the movie that the comedy direction was provided by Steve Carell who plays Alexander’s father in the movie.  That works out really well as because while the gags are fairly redone as far as “bad luck” movie gags go, many of them play out with a renewed vigor as a result. While Jennifer Garner, playing the mother, is also great in her role, it’s a shame that she has nowhere near the chemistry with Carell as she had 2 years ago with Joel Edgerton in The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

The strongest factor about this movie is that it’s a solidly constructed family film.  You see, in strong contradiction to the lesson that the Joker tries to teach Batman in The Killing Joke, one bad day doesn’t have to lead to ruin.  Rather it’s how you approach that day, and the things that happen to you in it, and who you survive it with.  In this case Alexander chooses to help his family make it through their day, see his point of view, and they all become stronger for sharing the experiences together.  Fans of the book will like this movie, as will parents looking for a movie to share with their children, and even new fans like myself who now needs to go read a book.

In addition to doing the web design and programming for the On the Go in MCO website, Todd Perlmutter is a host for the Disney Film Project Podcast.

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