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Misery Loves Company

Dale Robinette/Disney Enterprises

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

In spite of its marquee-name stars and once-hip indie director, Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” is essentially a bloated TV movie better suited for the Disney Channel. You’d find this enjoyable if you were very young.

Klutzy tween Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) can’t seem to do anything right and also suffers from the classic middle-child (technically he’s the third out of four) syndrome. He somehow gets the idea that everyone else in his family has it much better and easier than him, despite the fact that his dad, Ben (Steve Carell), is presently unemployed and caring for toddler Trevor (Zoey and Elise Vargas) full-time and his mom, Kelly (Jennifer Garner), works for a horrible boss. Regardless, Alexander wishes on his birthday for everyone to experience that eponymous terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day so everyone will finally have an appreciation for what it’s like to be him.

So what are some of the lessons in store for your kids?

1. It doesn’t matter how bad other people’s day is, yours is always much worse.

2. When you’re having a bad day, wish it on someone else because otherwise he or she won’t be able to empathize.

3. If your mom needs a promotion, get Dick Van Dyke to say the word “dump” so someone will make a video that will go viral.

4. If your dad has a job interview, dressing up as a pirate and lighting his sleeves on fire will impress his interviewers.

5. If your little brother loses his pacifier, a highlighter is a perfectly safe substitute.

6. You can get yourself drunk on cough syrup.

7. It’s cool to have crocodiles and Australian male strippers at your birthday party.

The film may be a good way to distract kids for an hour and 20 minutes, but are any of its messages appropriate? Grown-ups know all about what it’s like to have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, it’s just that most of us decide to keep it together for the sake of our kids. It’s a missed opportunity to teach that lesson to Alexander and by proxy the young and impressionable viewers so they’ll be able to empathize with the adults.


Opens on Oct. 10

Directed by Miguel Arteta; written by Rob Lieber, based on the book by Judith Viorst; director of photography, Terry Stacey; edited by Pamela L. Martin; music by Christophe Beck; production design by Michael Corenblith; costumes by Nancy Steiner; produced by Shawn Levy, Lisa Henson and Dan Levine; released by Walt Disney Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 21 minutes. This film is rated PG.

WITH: Steve Carell (Ben Cooper), Jennifer Garner (Kelly Cooper), Ed Oxenbould (Alexander), Dylan Minnette (Anthony Cooper), Kerris Dorsey (Emily Cooper) and Bella Thorne (Celia).


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