Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)
Starring Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxenbould, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey, Bella Thorne, Jennifer Coolidge, Donald Glover, and Megan Mullally
Directed by Miguel Arteta
Alexander is just about to turn twelve and he's discovered that a more popular kid at school has decided to throw his birthday party on the same night as his. With the prospect of no one coming and having just had a school day filled with some huge blunders, Alexander wants to cancel his party, but his parents Ben and Kelly (Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner) won't allow it. With his brother Anthony (Dylan Minette) prepping for his prom and his sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) landing the lead in the school musical, at 12:01am on the night of his birthday, Alexander blows out the candle on a bowl of ice cream wishing that his family could experience how un-fun is life is for just one day. In the grand tradition of wishes coming true in movies, when the Cooper family wakes up the next morning, chaos breaks out -- and the humor surprisingly flies all around.
Admittedly, there's a need for a bit of a suspension of disbelief here -- too many things are scheduled on this particular day for even the most reliable family to accomplish -- but if you're willing to make this acceptance, you're in for a treat. Rather surprisingly -- and perhaps the reason for the film's success -- Alexander focuses not only on its title character, but gives equal opportunity to each member of the Cooper family to be fleshed out in terms of their bad days and all story lines work quite well. Perhaps because of the notion that the parents are almost the focus here, adults are welcomed into the film in a way that isn't usually expected in movies aimed at a younger demographic.
Carell and Garner do a really nice job with both their slapstick and verbal comedy moments and all of the Cooper siblings also pleasantly create humor in their scenes. The kudos really belong to screenwriter Rob Lieber in his debut for crafting a film that not only appeals to the kiddos, but also to the kid in all of us by never talking down to the younger audience.
The RyMickey Rating: B+