Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: An Unsatisfying Mix of Comedy and Drama


The Film:

“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” based on the book of the same name by Judith Viorst, tells the story of a typical 12-year-old, Alexander (Ed Oxenbould), who is having a pretty rough day. Just to give a few examples of what’s made it so: he oversleeps, finds out that none of his friends will be attending his birthday party, ends up having to take care of a class pet when no one else will, and doesn’t get the country he wants for a class report. When his family doesn’t seem to understand his frustration, he makes a wish that they would have similar days of their own so that they could see what it’s like.

The next morning sees the whole house oversleep (except for Alexander, of course), his dad (Steve Carell) having to go to a job interview with the baby of the family, his mother (Jennifer Garner) having to deal with a dead car battery and a terrible publishing mistake in a children’s book she’s been working on, his brother (Dylan Minnette) having problems with his girlfriend, and his sister (Kerris Dorsey) getting a cold on the day she’s to play Peter Pan in the school play. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. On the upside, Alexander’s day is going great, especially when he hears that his birthday party is going to be more crowded than he thought. However, with everything going so badly for the rest of the family, will they be able to get through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days?

This is a film that tries to balance precariously between touching family drama and something of an over-the-top comedy. The problem is that, for every comedic moment that actually hits its mark, you are treated to several that are more annoying or gross than funny. For instance, this is the kind of film that counts vomiting and peeing as funny, while also trying to garner laughs from such uninspired moments as Carell’s character getting beaten up by a kangaroo or Dick Van Dyke reading the error-filled children’s book that Garner’s character worked on. It’s true that the film is primarily directed towards kids, but it seems doubtful that even they would find the material all that amusing. It’s a concept that could certainly work as a film, but it would need to be reworked so that it wasn’t quite so lowbrow, and at the same time making sure the elements of family togetherness are handled in a better manner. Only then would it hit all the marks that it was looking to hit, instead of de-evolving into the mostly unfunny, predictable journey that it ultimately becomes.

Video/Audio:

“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” comes to Blu-ray in an outstanding 2.39:1, 1080p High Definition transfer. The picture is flawless throughout, presenting a crystal clear and sharp image that stands as one of the best of recent memory. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is fairly standard, giving you all elements of the soundtrack in great quality. Overall, the film has been given fantastic treatment that leaves little room for improvement.

Special Features:

Alexander… in Real Life: A brief, superficial look at the author of the book, Judith Viorst, and her son. Easily skippable.

Snappy Crocs and Punchy Roos: The Australian Outback Yard Party: A rather pointless and uninformative look at the backyard party scene at the end of the film.

Walkabout: A Video Diary: A look behind the scenes with Ed Oxenbould that unfortunately doesn’t present anything of interest either.

And the Delightful, Magnificent, Very Good Bloopers: An inaccurately-named gag reel that is very low in laughs.

“Hurricane” By the Vamps – Music Video

Conclusion:

“Alexander”… etc. isn’t exactly a terrible film, but it was definitely in need of a little retooling so that the events plaguing this family weren’t quite so unbelievable, annoying, and on the lower end of the comic scale. The mixture of over-the-top comedic moments and attempts at touching family togetherness also needed a little work so that it didn’t come off as such an awkward juxtaposition. A more-able writer could certainly take this concept and turn it into something viable, but if, and only if, they choose to aim higher.

Score: 2.5/5

Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.

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