Wednesday, December 03, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)




For 12 year old Alexander Cooper, everyday is a bad day. And his family thinks he's being silly because they never have a bad day. On the day before his 12th birthday party, he learns that another boy is having a party of his own and everyone is going to it. And another kid punks him online. So at midnight of his birthday, he wishes that his whole family can have a bad day. And things for the whole family go bad, his mom's car is broken so they have to share a car, his sister has a cold and has to go on stage, his older brother, who's hoping to get his driver's license and to bring his girlfriend to the prom, has to deal with his girlfriend's snootiness and fails to get his license, his mom has a crisis at work which could cost her her job, and his dad who has a job interview has to bring his younger brother with him but because his pacifier is broken he can't stop crying. Alex feels responsible.

Ratings: 6.5/10 from 3,608 users   Metascore: 54/100
Reviews: 32 user | 69 critic | 28 from 

Movie Info

Disney's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"follows the exploits of 11-year-old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) as he experiences the most terrible and horrible day of his young life-a day that begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by one calamity after another. But when Alexander tells his upbeat family about the misadventures of his disastrous day, he finds little sympathy and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him. He soon learns that he's not alone when his mom (Jennifer Garner), dad (Steve Carell), brother (Dylan Minnette) and sister (Kerris Dorsey) all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Anyone who says there is no such thing as a bad day just hasn't had one. (c) Disney

TOMATOMETER 64% | Average Rating: 5.7/10 

Reviews Counted: 97 | Fresh: 62 | Rotten: 35 

Critics Consensus: Affably pleasant without ever trying to be anything more, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a fine -- albeit forgettable -- family diversion. 

AUDIENCE SCORE 65% liked it | Average Rating: 3.7/5 | User Ratings: 25,515

Released in the US on the 10th of October 2014. Opens in Malaysia December 4th, 2014.  

  So everyone has the same expression except for Alexander. Makes you wonder what's going through his head. ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

So what's this movie about?


Well here's what I've found out about this little family fare from Disney, it's sort of based on a book published in 1972 by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz. The book has won a few awards, has two follow-up sequels and was even adapted into a 25 minute animated musical television special that aired on HBO in the United States. Not only was it turned into a TV special in 1990, it was even adapted by the writer into a theater musical production in 1998 and adapted again into a stage production in 2004. It was seven years later in 2011 that word traveled around Hollywood that it was going to be turned into a movie. 

So what is the story about? Well, if you didn't read those synopsis I got from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes then I can't help you. Or maybe I can. Anyway, from what I can glean the movie is more inspired by the book than it is inspired. Come on think about it, how many people can relate to situations that a writer wrote about in 1972 today? Especially with all the stuff we have and are distracted by these days, adults and young folks in general. So not only has it been added on to in terms of what happens in the book it's also been updated.

I wish I did this whenever it was time to hand over the days assignments. It would be sooo cool. ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

So basically from what's written up there you know that the movie is about Alexander who has a pretty bad day. Gum in the hair in the morning, falls on his face as he's walking towards a girl he likes, has not very cool pictures of himself spread throughout the school, burns the school lab, etc. Pretty bad. I'd go right to bed if that happened to me. Anyway all this happens on the eve of his birthday which is about to be ruined by a popular kid in school who decides to have his birthday party a week early and on the same day as his. So his day sucks. Anyway, just when the clock turns midnight he makes himself a birthday sundae and makes a wish. What does he wish for? For everyone else in his not-so-understanding and not-so-sympathetic family, who also somehow have awesome days compared to him, to experience a bad day like he has everyday. At this point of the movie I thought of that old movie Liar Liar (1997) starring Jim Carrey whom because he skips his son's birthday his son decides to make a wish that, dear old dad can't lie anymore. That old movie is ever so slightly better rated than this movie. 

Moving on, the next day finds everyone in the family missing their alarms and oversleeping, and his sister, who is supposed to play Peter Pan in the school play, wakes up with a cold. Now because everyone is late all sorts of mishaps happen, big brother jumps into the bathroom only to discover a huge pimple on his unblemished face when the prom is that night and mom accidentally opens the door and spots his little willie. Dad who is a stay at home "Mom" or "Famy" (Father + Mommy = Famy. Go figure) can't find the diapers for the baby and drops the used ones down the stairs. Mom after accidentally walking in on naked brother also accidentally knocks her leg against the door frame. Baby now without diaper is in the kitchen doing the best water sprinkler act I've seen and Dad opens the fridge door and spills an entire box of orange juice. Mom gets into her car and discovers that the battery is flat because actor sister decided to practice her lines in the car because everyone was distracting her and accidentally left the interior lights on. So all that happens at home.

People usually make this face when they accidentally walk into the bathroom when I'm in there. ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Out of home more bad things happen to everyone else except for Alexander who has a pretty okay day. For example Mom who works for a publishing house finds out that a book she's in charge of has some interesting misprints and that those misprints will be read aloud in front of a group of kids and their parents. Dad who has a job interview finds out that the babysitter can't come so has to take the baby with him to the interview where baby decides to eat a green marker which turns baby's face green. Big brother gets dumped by the girlfriend because of a misunderstanding and later in the day screws up his driving test quite spectacularly and also finds out that his tuxedo for the prom was accidentally given away leaving him with a suit that was last worn in 1972. Sister still has a chance at playing Peter Pan but needs to get something for the cold and instead of taking the recommended dosage decides to self prescribe which results in a pretty silly adaptation of Peter Pan that no one has seen before. But that's not the end. 

They all end up, with prom date in the minivan, at dinner in a teppanyaki-style restaurant. Why a teppanyaki style restaurant? Well, the folks that dad met at the interview liked him and invited him for drinks and I guess it was just convenient that everyone head there too. So big brother and prom date are sitting away from the rest of the family and this is when big brother realizes that maybe the perfect girlfriend he thought he had is not so perfect and not for him. Dad on the other hand hams it up and impresses the soon to be employers but in the end lights his shirt sleeves on fire which makes him look like an ass, which makes him walk away embarrassed and thinking he lost any chance of landing the job. He walks out of the restaurant with his head hung low.

According to Wikipedia, Dick Van Dyke is 88 this year. That man there looks healthier than I do. ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Family goes out to find him out by the restaurant garbage cans kicking them like he was Cristiano Ronaldo taking a free kick. They talk to dad and Alexander comes up with some nuggets of wisdom from his own bad day experiences and they all end up kicking the restaurants garbage cans. After the stress has been sufficiently vented and the innocent garbage cans badly dented they all jump back into the minivan and head home, where they walk in the front door to be surprised by and alligator. Turns out that while they were out Mom and Dad had arranged for some party planners to come in and set-up for Alexanders birthday party. The theme for the party, the Australian Outback complete with a selection of Australian wildlife. 

The party's a success and everyone has a rollicking good time. Even Alexander's crush shows up which makes him smile from ear to ear. So all's well that ends well, even if you had a really, really bad day that would put most of us hiding in our closets curled up in the fetal position.

So that's it basically. What happens in the movie as I can recall. If you want to read in more detail about what happens in the movie you can go to the Wikipedia entry for it HERE, or just go watch the movie.

Throughout the whole movie this child has green all over his face. Throughout the movie I kept thinking this is what the Hulk would look like as a toddler and if only 5% of his "Hulkness" showed through. ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures


So what did I think about the movie?

Well this movie was directed by Miguel Arteta, who's past projects include The Good Girl which stars Jennifer Aniston who's performance was pretty liked by many and an adaptation of one of my favorite books, Youth in Revolt, which in my opinion wasn't very good. What I noticed about reading up on Miguel Arteta is that his movies are pretty consistent based on how the audience rated it. Which is nice I guess, good even. Not sure about the point I'm trying to make here.

Anyway, overall the movie is entertaining. It's a little more than decent. The cast overall was okay the only one that I really enjoyed watching was Steve Carrell. The mishaps and bad day incidents are entertaining and occasionally hilarious but generally amusing. And even though this is a Disney movie the moral part of the movie, the lesson part doesn't come out as too heavy or over the top. It's a simple lesson, but for the life of me I can't remember it. Something to do with no matter how bad your day is it isn't all that bad, or something.

Traffic in Kuala Lumpur is so bad and the drivers commuting in it is even worse that I drive around town with the same expressions. ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

It's that sort of movie that you can take your family to and enjoy it but you won't remember much of it about an hour after you've walked out of the cinema. It's a good but not memorable. Perfect maybe to get a few laughs out and keeping the kids quiet for an hour and a half. As for whether it's better than the other films in the same genre like the last couple animated ones I've seen, maybe not. Character development is minimal which means you don't really feel connected to the characters and the movie just feels like one mishap after another while trying to string along a story. I'm not saying I don't like it what I'm saying is is that this movie isn't for those looking for substance or a meaningful storyline. It's lighthearted fluff, mindless humor that you should enjoy as is. Don't look too deep or too hard for anything more. Just sit back and enjoy it. Think of it this way, watch the movie as if you were a 12 year old like Alexander is, or you know just tell the adult in you to take a break and let your inner child take control of your brain for 90 minutes. Whatever works for you.

Just wanted to mention that it was nice to see Dick Van Dyke again in a movie. Can't remember the last time I saw him in a movie. He's older of course but still very much the same Dick Van Dyke. Very cool to see him on the big screen. If you don't know who he is you're either too young or haven't seen all the old Disney movies, which also means you might be too young.

So there's a kangaroo in this movie and as expected he ends up kicking someone. ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

To sum it up, because I did tell the adult me to take a break and allowed the twelve year old in me to take the brain reins I did enjoy it. It was a nice 90 minute break. I laughed and was amused. It really wasn't a bad movie. I give Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, a decent 3 out of 5.

Have a look at the trailer right here. 





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