'Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day' follows its roots, and sets its sights squarely on the family market.
It's taken quite a while for a film adaptation of the beloved children's book to appear, perhaps because its title is rather cumbersome: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. But there the full title is on posters (with commas) and across the screen (without them), although it could be argued that the story hasn't been adapted with quite as much reverence.
‘Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ is based on the book from 1972
Originally published in 1972, the award-winning book by Judith Viorst won a shelf-load of awards. The film adaptation, by first-time screenwriter Ron Lieber, flips the story around: now it's not Alexander who's having such an awful day: he has wished his bad luck on everyone around him instead.
There's nothing wrong with this bright and goofy family comedy, but there's nothing much to it either. As a bit of mindless entertainment, the film is smart and funny enough to keep audiences entertained, spinning a swirling vortex of bad luck and wacky slapstick around one lively family. But it's utterly weightless, without even a hint of an edge, and anyone who loathes either nutty physical gags or sappy sentimentality should steer well clear.
Everyone in the audience can understand how Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) feels: he's fed up with the fact that no one notices that his life is just one humiliation after another, so on his 12th birthday he wishes that his family would have a taste of his misfortune. Sure enough, everything that can go wrong does. Dad Ben (Steve Carell) has to take the baby with him to an important job interview; mom Kelly (Jennifer Garner) has a work event go horribly wrong; teen brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) struggles to make prom night special for his demanding-diva girlfriend (Bella Thorne); and middle sister Emile (Kerris Dorsey) gets ill on opening night of the school play she's starring in. On the other hand, Alexander's day isn't so bad, as he finally catches the eye of cute girl Becky (Sidney Fullmer).
The plot is laid out as a series of minor calamities that escalate to crazed proportions as the day goes on, but only until the screenwriter decides to have mercy on the characters and let them bond to face the mayhem. Frankly, this is such a wildly happy family that nothing about the film is believable: their problems exist strictly for laughs. Thankful, most of the set pieces are genuinely funny due to the up-for-it actors, who make the most of their characters and the connections between them. There's also a terrific stream of cameo roles for comedy aces like Megan Mullally (Will & Grace), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie) and Donald Glover (Parks and Recreation). Dick Van Dyke even makes a witty appearance as himself.
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Alexander is an 11-year-old boy who experiences a series of disastrous events in just one day, from waking up with chewing gum stuck in his hair and tripping over in front of the girl he likes to someone at school sending round embarrassing photos of him and him setting fire to the science lab. His family seem to be having the best day ever though with his father looking at an impressive new job and his brother looking forward to getting his driver's license. The next day, however, the tables have turned as everyone sleeps in, his father seems out of his depth in his job interview, the baby eats felt tip pen and his brother crashes the family car during his driving exam. While everyone wallows in their own bad luck, it's up to Alexander to realise that he's not the only one who has bad days - and remind his family of that too.
When Adele Wheeler lost her husband, her life started slowly deteriorating. Suffering from depression and having developed a slight tremor, she is rarely able to leave the house except for emergencies. When she finally has to face the streets to go last minute shopping with her 13-year-old Henry, they meet a scary-looking injured man named Frank who requests a lift to their house. Too frightened to argue, they accept and later discover that he is an escaped prisoner wanted for murder. However, the mother and son can't help feeling less and less frightened as the hours pass by when he shows them remarkable kindness, despite insisting on tying them up for his and their own safety. It's not long before Adele falls in love again and she, Frank and Henry embark on a dangerous adventure together to finally escape a world that has become so cruel to them - but will the threesome get away before the cops get suspicious?
This romantic drama is set in 1982 and is based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Maynard and has been written and directed by Jason Reitman ('Thank You for Smoking', 'Juno', 'Up in the Air'). 'Labor Day' made its premiere at the 2013 Telluride Film Festival and is set to be released in the UK on February 7th 2014.