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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

February 5th, 2015

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Alexander and the I hate movies with long names cost only $28 million to make, which is low compared to the average film. It did do well enough to become a midlevel hit, which is better than most live action kids movies. Will it also be a hit on the home market? Or did it thrive due to a lack of competition in theaters?

The Movie

The movie begins with a voice-over from Alexander telling us how everyone in his family is eternally optimistic and seemingly perfect, which makes him the odd one out. The entire family had a really really bad day, despite not believing in bad days. He also explains how it is his fault.

We jump back in time one day with Alexander waking up late. It's the day before his birthday, but it gets off to a bad start. There are some minor things, like sleeping in and being woken up by Anthony, but he also learns Phillip Parker's birthday party is on the same day as his. This a problem, because Phillip's parents are rich and throw really extravagant parties, so no one will want to go to Alexander's party. Worse still, his sister, Emily, points out he has gum in his hair. He has to carpool, because his mom has a big day at work (an important kids book comes out the next day) and dad has to get Emily to a dentist appointment. This does mean Alexander gets to sit next to his crush, Becky, but before he even gets to the car, he trips and face plants in the mud.

The day doesn't get better for Alexander. It's great for the rest of his family, on the other hand. I won't go into details, because they are not really that necessary. What matters for the plot is that it is just too much for Alexander to take. That night, Alexander makes himself a birthday ice cream sundae and puts a birthday candle on it and makes a wish. He wishes his family knew what it was like to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He gets his wish, but in traditional wish-granter rules, he gets his wish in a way he didn't intend. His family learns what it is like to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, because they all have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

That's pretty much it for the plot. That's one of the big issues this movie has. The original book didn't have much of a plot; it was just a series of bad events. The movie doesn't add a lot of plot to the film, more than the book does, but less than most movies. It is even less than most family films. Because of this, it can't reach the highest level and likely won't appeal to adults. That said, it is not a bad movie for families. The cast is really good and while the script doesn't give them a lot of challenging work, the do deliver great performances. You actually feel like this is a family and that Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell are a married couple, for instance. There's a good sense of "families stick together" and that's a good message to give. The film has a lot of good scenes that are energetic and fun to watch, but they don't gel to form a cohesive whole. Additionally, despite being a really short movie (Not counting credits, it is only about 70 minutes long.) it does feel repetitive or padded.

Overall, I'm not upset that I had to watch it, but I don't think I'll be watching it again. That's better than average for a film aimed at this target demographic.

The Extras

The first extra on the DVD / Blu-ray is a five-minute look at the creation of the book, which was based on the author's real life son. There is a seven-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that focuses on the party scene. Up next is a six-minute featurette on the titular Alexander, Ed Oxenbould. Finally, there's a music video.

The technical presentation is excellent and there are no complaints to mention. The level of details are high, the colors are vivid, the blacks are inky. It goes without saying that there are no compression issues or digital artifacts. The audio is a 5.1 surround sound track and while this isn't the most active track I've listened to, there's enough activity that it is a real asset.

The Blu-ray costs $18, which is $5 or 28% more than the DVD. That's a fine price for this type of release.

The Verdict

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is an above average live-action family film. There's nothing about it that is particularly bad, but it never rises above the level of merely good either. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD or Blu-ray, so I'm not sure a purchase is really necessary. It is a solid rental, if you have kids of the right age range, on the other hand.

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Filed under: Video Review, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Kerris Dorsey, Sidney Fullmer, Dylan Minette, Ed Oxenbould