For an adult, without children, live action Disney films can be torture, sort of
like those awful Adam Sandler films where he aims to please a living room full of
families with buttered fingers, big bellies and plastic WalMart shopping bags everywhere.
Alexander is certainly aiming for the same crowd but with highlights in family togetherness,
the nearly guilty enjoyment of watching optimists suffer a terrible, horrible, no
good, very bad day, this wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.
For his 12th birthday wish, Alexander is coming off a very bad day, which is made
worse by hearing about his parents wonderful day, his brothers amazing girlfriend
and upcoming drivers liscense test followed by his sister’s Peter Pan rehersal, only
to be topped off my losing more and more attention to his infant brother. His wish
is that everyone else experience a bad day like he usually does. The next morning
the bad begins for everyone and just keeps on going. While the Cooper family takes
it in strides, they smile through all the difficulties and are reminded that as a
family they can turn even the worst days into something wonderful.
Alexander certainly takes advantage of the absence of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid films,
assuming that target audience. The pray falls don’t seem as over processed as usual
and even though Garner and Carrell have been known to deliver some real stinker films,
surprisingly they are tolerable (except for that embarrassing to watch, stereotypical
Carrell scene where he catches himself on fire). The script (and obviously the children’s
book from which it’s based) uses trendy words like “Famey” (meaning father mommy)
or “text bomb”, corny phrases that will age this film before it even hits DVD.
We can all be thankful for the short running time, as thee characters don’t have
much to offer beyond their annoying smiles and delicacy dealing with the most absurd
befuddlements. Director Miguel Arteta is pretty familiar with these kind of obnoxious
material, following up the equally dismissible Cedar Rapids. Alexander isn’t aiming
for the higher learning, intelligent or sophisticated family movie night (they would
be watching something like Boyhood), nor is it opening up dialogue for parents to
talk about the material and learn something, this Disney film like most of the others
is just taken at face value.
Final Thought – “Families” (and no one else) should enjoy watching the Cooper’s
endure and survive a bad day.
By: Dustin Chase
As with many children’s movies, this film does overkill in a big way. One major
catastrophe after another starts first with Alexander’s (Ed Oxenbould) bad day one
day before, then everyone else’s the next day. The whole movie is in hyper mode,
with crashes, fires, misunderstandings, misprints, vomit, poop, and anything else
the filmmakers could think up. Getting pelted with all this for 81 minutes was exhausting;
Other aspects of the plot I didn’t like was how mean adults like teachers, employers,
and driving administrators are portrayed, especially toward kids, and the sheer incompetence
of the adults. The only redeeming part of the action is the solidarity of the Cooper
family and their occasional goofiness. The film also brought home some good points,
such as it’s OK to be sad, frustrated, and disappointed; being upbeat through turmoil
is not necessarily a good thing. Another good point is the portrayal of the teen
romance around prom night. The “most popular girl in school” feels no compunction
about making demands on Alexander’s brother, and his way of resolving the issue was
rewarding to see.
I can also say that the acting, especially that of Ed Oxenbould (Alexander), is
another strong point. Steve Carell and Jennifer Gardner perform at their usual high
level, and the actors playing the two older kids—Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey—are
obviously talented. Although I didn’t like the character Megan Mullally plays, she,
too, does a fine job.
If I fault anyone, it would be the director, Miguel Arteta, and the producers who
created what I’m sure they thought would be a hilarious Disney movie. My understanding
of the book by Judith Viorst on which the film is based contains bad things of the
ordinary variety, which are more plausible. The filmmakers chose much more preposterous
happenings that, to me, makes the film rather ludicrous.
For those who like their comedy mean and over the top.