On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at Disney’s latest release, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. (#VeryBadDay)
The movie is inspired by one of everyone’s favorite children’s books of the same name (written by Judith Viorst). The book, based on Judith’s own children (the youngest of whom seemed to have more than his share of bad luck – and very bad days) had never previously been turned into a feature-length film. In an interview with Viorst, she reveals that Alexander was initially very unhappy with her decision to base a character off of his misadventures. She meant well, but it took him a while to learn to take advantage of the fame. By high school, though, grown-up Alexander says, “it impressed the ladies and served [him] very well in [his] life.” 🙂
Viorst says she simply wanted to remind children – and adults alike – that all of us have bad days. Sometimes, we have really bad days. But “there’s a container concept to it, in that maybe tomorrow will be better.” I think the movie does a really nice job extrapolating on this.
It begins with young Alexander – the one we all know and love, who can’t seem to get anything right; the one who wants to move to Australia – having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. As you might expect.
He tries to tell his family about his day around the dinner table that evening, only to realize that their lives were all going better than ever. He felt alone, and wished that for once someone could understand what it was like to have days like his.
The next day, it appears his birthday wish may have come true. Now twelve-year-old Alexander watches as his entire family has the kind of day he previously felt was reserved only for him. The kind where everything you think could go wrong does… and oh, so much more.
Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell were outstanding as Alexander’s parents, Kelly and Ben Cooper. They were both hilarious in their roles. On their #VeryBadDay, I literally could not stop laughing at the things happening to and around Mrs. Cooper because, though it was certainly somewhat over the top, it felt a bit like my daily, somewhat-chaotic life! 🙂 Ed Oxenbould, Kerris Dorsey, and Dylan Minnette each played wonderfully unique siblings in a part of this quirky, yet completely lovable family. Jennifer Coolidge, Megan Mullally, Donald Glover and Dick Van Dyke also appear.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m always a bit uncertain when beloved books are made into movies, and a 32-page classic picture book into an 80-minute movie could have been a stretch. I think it turned out even better than I could have wanted.
Fans of the book will love Alexander. And I think you’ll love his affinity for all things Australian – that certainly made me smile! 🙂 Disney fans will enjoy a few homages to Walt Disney’s Peter Pan. Kyle and I both laughed out loud more than we ever expected to, and we weren’t alone. The theater was in stitches through more than one scene.
The soundtrack is a great addition to an already good film, featuring music from The Vamps, two of the movie’s stars (one from Dylan Minnette’s band, The Narwhals, and one from Kerris Dorsey and her sister Justine), and a score by Christopher Beck.
All in all, the film is outstanding. We will be buying it as soon as it is released on BluRay, and I have to say – we don’t always rush out to be live-action films like we do the animated classics. This one is now a must-own, though!
A bit of a “Parental Review”…
There are just a few things I feel I should mention. The movie is rated PG (for rude humor, some reckless behavior and language), which I think is a very appropriate rating. I’m not going to spell out everything one might find offensive, I’ll just give you our opinion. Keep in mind that in our house we answer every question our kids may have with honesty, but we also hold that “butt”, “sucks”, etc are potty words (or “not very polite” words) that our six-year-olds don’t say. So take my opinion for just that.
There are a little bit of those “not very polite” words, if you have young kiddos. “Cute butt” between high schoolers, junior high boys saying, “Nice boobs, Alexander” (related to a photoshopped text that is briefly shown but does not contain nudity), etc. There is also quite literally a potty joke or two in the form of a potty-training children’s book that gets some airtime. It’s much more cute than harmful. I would say the language is not any more offensive than, say, The Lego Movie (which we own and love)… but it’s in there, and your kids will probably giggle at it like mine will. 😉
The only bit of vocabulary that I would say requires a “warning” is in a single scene, and it depends solely on your family dynamics. There is some very brief discussion of male genitalia by its proper name – in a very appropriate, non-gratuitous manner (Ie, one or two sentences between Mrs. Cooper and the boys in her family). If you call particular body parts by their proper name with your children you won’t bat an eye. If you use other terms for said body parts, you may have some ‘splainin’ to do. I wouldn’t say it was remotely offensive, just there. And worth mentioning.
Beyond that, the movie is absolutely great for the whole family! There is nothing scary to worry about, unless your child has an unhealthy fear of kangaroos or driving exams. It is full of excellent conversations about family, priorities, taking your days one at a time – and sticking together through the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ones. We definitely recommend it.
Disclaimer: We received free two free admissions for a pre-release screening of this film on October 8, 2014. We were not required or compensated to share our feedback, and all opinions are entirely our own and completely honest.