ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY
US, 2014, 81 minutes, Colour.
Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxonbould, Dylan Minette, Kerris Dorsey, Bella Thorne, Meagan Mullally, Jennifer Coolidge, Dick Van Dyke.
Directed by Miguel Arteta.
They say that films with very long names turn out to be not very good. It is difficult to know who “they” are – but in this case, they are quite wrong. Alexander definitely has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day but it is not a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad film.
It’s a family film, generally for family audiences but also about a family. At the opening, we see them struggling home in a knocked-about car. They unlock their front door and we, and they, hear what seem to be crocodile noises! And then the film goes back 24 hours so that we can discover that very horrible day.
Alexander is quite an enterprising young man, although he certainly gets himself into a mess and get the family itself into quite some messes as well. Surprisingly, he is played by Ed Oxennbould, and very well too. But the surprise is not his acting. It is that he is an Australian actor and is to appear in the family film, Paper Planes. He is perfectly convincing as an American. Although it is interesting to note that in the film, his character, Alexander, has a passion for things Australian, his room covered in posters, his wanting to do a project on Australia at school (though his arch-rival, always putting him down, Philip Parker, and popular with everyone is assigned Australia).
Alexander has interesting genes because his father is a rocket scientist, recently losing his job as companies are re-structured, but offering to work on a computer game for a group of young experts. He is played genially by Steve Carell. And mother, Jennifer Garner, is very successful as well. She writes children’s books, testing them out at home with great approval. When she goes to the library bookshop reading of one of the other books from her company, they discover there is a horrible, very bad misprint right throughout the book, dump instead of jump! Which leads to some difficulties – and some hostilities – for the guest reader, Dick Van Dyke.
Alexander has an older brother and sister. Anthony (Dylan Minette) is preparing to go to the prom with, of course, the beautiful girl in the class (in who in fact is a snob that no one would want to go with). He also get has to get a suit – and find one that does not suit him. And it his driving licence test day – with a tricky examiner concerning mobile phones, Jennifer Coolidge. He has an older sister, Emily (Kerris Dorsey), who has been rehearsing for the school play – she is Peter Pan, but develops a cold, gives into too much cough mixture with a few ‘high’ disastrous results.
So, we can see, what a terrible, horrible day the rest of the family has – except the baby Trevor who does suck on a colour marker with green results. But, the rest of the family seem to give all their attention to the baby – and poor old Alexander feels that everybody neglects him.
It was important that this review to give the initial attention to Alexander because of his feelings of neglect – rather than to the rest of the family who, despite the terrible day, do finally have good results.
And then there is Alexander’s birthday party, quite a surprise with a very Australian theme.
All’s well that ends well – and this amusing film, with a moment or two of rudeness, runs only 80 minutes, which is all to the good.
1. A popular novel? Film conversions? Animation? Life-action? Characters, styles, idiosyncrasies? Situations, accidents, comedy? A film for all the family?
2. California, the family,, the rooms, close living? The office? Books, videogames? Shops, the pharmacy, school, class, laboratories? Playing? The streets written final party? The Australian atmosphere and interests?
3. The film, we, the musical score?
4. The title, the focus, the emphases? The opening, family, in the car, Alexander and his being to blame, open house door in the crocodile sound?
5. Going back in time, the audience identifying with the family, their problems, the behaviour, clashes, love, the parents attention away from Alexander, is feeling that he was ignored? The disasters, the family together, happy, affirmation, survival?
6. Then, the father, rocket scientists, his being retrenched? His having to be father-mother, traitor and his first word? The meals, genial life, cake? Picking it up? Kelly, loving wife, who job, the importance, the Times and the pressures, her boss? Anthony, the damage to the car, Lilly, coffee, the performance, the cough mixture? Baby Trevor, the colour and the green about his mouth?
7. The crisis, the play, the rehearsal, Peter Pan, the fire, Emily, mixture, being sick?
8. Guardian the party, Alexander and his fascination with Australia, the design of this room, the party, the animals on the range? The men from down under, performance, strippers – and the advice to be PG?
9. Kelly, mother, for children, love, affirming them, Alexander feeling he was ignored, running late for work, Anthony in the shower and his embarrassment? Nina, the pitch for the book, the promises, the significance of the misprint, Dick Van Dyke and his reading, his reaction to Kelly, going viral on You Tube? The party, phone call, the success of the book despite the misprint?
10. Alexander 12, first impressions, school, Australia, Philip Parker and his rivalry, everybody gained his party, Alexander and the girl and her decision? Helping the lab, by, having to mind beginning? His father late? The photos and mockery, ignored? Have call, the break, taken the wish, skating? Is its, and is called, school, Philip Parker and chickenpox, everybody going to his party? His blame himself? Watching the play, the fiasco? His final and session, everybody let him off? The happy party?
11. Anthony, his age, the blue suit, senior, the moods, going to the prom, and you, the phone call? His embarrassment in the shower? The banking Johns said? The driving test, is going to slowly, examine and her drinking him with a? See you in talking, the accident with, the blue suit, going to play, collecting Celia, reaction, the Japanese restaurant, looking down, her friends there? Anthony’s not wanting to break with his family?
12. Emily, the play, rehearsals, cold, the director, copying and drinking the medicine, the plane crash, survival? The family, singing the sea?
13. Celia, snob, the phone calls, the break after Anthony serves as if he was insulting her, instead of talking to Alexander? The reconciliation, the dress, the blue suit, in the music, in the car, the music and singing, the Japanese restaurant?
14. Anthony and his friends?
15. The range of comedy, farcical, slapstick?
16. Family entertainment about the eccentricities in the family?