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IN SHORT: OK, or "really good", depending on who you bring to the cineplex. [Rated PG for rude humor including some reckless behavior and language. 82 minutes]
Apparently, creator Judith Viorst first adapted her novel in to a family friendly stage musical -- add " -- The Musical; (Book and Lyrics by Viorst; Music by Shelly Markham)" to the title above and you're up to speed. A more entertaining summary of the film, complete with bits of songs that are not in this film can be found courtesy of the Coterie Theater of Kansas City, which staged the musical in 2010.There are dozens of earlier stagings of the musical listed, all across the country, all indicating to yours Cranky that Viorst's work in a juggernaut in kids literature and one not to be easily dismissed. We weren't going to do that anyway, but there are other things we'd rather focus on.
Laura Petrie's husband makes a cameo appearance in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. As ("Mr. Petrie") says in the best joke in the screenplay -- "If you don't know who I am, ask your parents. If they don't know who I am, ask your parent's parents." If you understand that line and have children of the right age, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day will be a good sit for those kidlets. You will be able to sit in the back row while said kidlets get to feel like grown ups down in front. OR if your kids are big enough to be complaining loudly enough about being big enough to see this film alone with their friends, there is nothing in the film adaptation that should worry you. No off-color word snuck in to make the parents in the back row giggle or shriek in horror. Then again, if you don't have children and if you haven't read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, you'll best spend your hard-earned cash elsewhere. Like dating so you can develop relationships and do the right thing and marry before you make your babies, who will watch Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day osn whatever succeeds YouTube and Instagram ten years from now.
It's not Alexander's (Ed Oxenbould) sole, very bad day, understand, even though his 12th Birthday should be a happy occasion. It's a bad day for the entire Cooper family! That's why the title is not Alexander and his Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. For example, mother Kelly (Jennifer Garner) has a big star reading the new book published by her employer. If all goes well, she will be made a VP, which is great news because husband Ben (Steve Carrell), has been unemployed for the last seven months. He has, apparently, become a "fah-mee"; an awkward combination of the words father and mother. That's not spoiling a joke, because it isn't a joke. Alexander's brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) finalizes his date to the junior prom at the last minute (but the bad part is biological), and his sister gets a cold on the day she is to perform Peter Pan at the John Marshall Middle School. Put it all together and, yeah, you get the totality of the entire Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Which means, if the film does well, Alexander's thirteenth birthday could be "sucky, poopy and wretched" as well. <vbg>
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day isn't so much a story of the bad elements in a bad day but of how the good stuff always triumphs, in the end. That's so Disney and, as the main character has just finished the nirvana that is age eleven (and the viewers are all going to be that age or younger), all we have enthused and/or warned about above is really all we need to say. Parents: your kids have hopefully already read the novel, which we reviewing grunts are told has been a best seller for forty years; Kids, you have hopefully read the book, or had it read to you, or ingested it in whatever form kids get their books nowadays, so you know it's good.
Unless you've already seen the film and, in retrospect, wanted to know if I saw it and if I liked it and if I know anything about good movies before you eMail me to tell me that I don't . . .<sigh> I've been doing this way too long. <vbg>
OK, too much of that. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a great sit for the kids. It's a good sit for adults with kids. It's really not made for adults without kids (unless you're a twentysomething who grew up with the book and still are connected and want to see if the film version is all you remember. You young ladies and young gentlemen, are on you own).
Crankycritic.com does not put dollar ratings on family friendly movies. We just say See It or Don't see it. If you haven't figured it out by now, you need a couple more years of school. So we'll put it in big letters:
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