Take a Drink: at every mention of the bumblebee pacifier
Take a Drink: every time you rethink having children
Take a Drink: whenever Alexander talks about Australia
Take a Drink: every time Emily takes a swig of cough syrup
Take a Drink: at each Disney tie-in
By: BabyRuth (Three Beers) –
Ever had one of those days where everything goes wrong?
NO, NO, NO, stop it! You get out of here Daniel Powter!
Eleven-year-old Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) is no stranger to bad days. The eve of his twelfth birthday is an especially bad one. Not to be confused with the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, this is more of a run-of-the-mill extremely crappy day. It starts with gum in his hair. Then he learns a more popular classmate is having the party of the year on the same day as his and all his friends are bailing on him. If that’s not bad enough, an embarrassing picture of him has gone viral around the school. Then he nearly burns down his science lab. He’s friend-zoned by the girl of his dreams. On top of everything else, his own family is too preoccupied with their own lives to pay attention. What’s a kid to do?
In Alexander’s case, he decides to light a birthday candle and make a wish to the same birthday fairy that stopped Jim Carey from lying that time. Alexander wants everyone else to have a bad day for once so they’ll know how it feels.
What a day for a wish like that to come true! Alexander’s dad (Steve Carell), who has been out of work for nearly a year, has an important job interview. His mom (Jennifer Garner) is up for a big promotion at work that hinges on a major media event featuring a beloved celebrity. Sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) is the lead in the school production of Peter Pan. And big brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) has both his driving test and his junior prom, plus a demanding girlfriend (Bella Thorne) to keep happy. Imagine if everything were to go wrong!
This could have easily been terrible. And horrible. And no good. And… okay, you get it, but it’s not. Not at all.
Thanks to a solid cast and a breezy screenplay, Alexander is silly and enjoyable PG fun for both kids and adults.
Cringe-humor only works if the viewer cares about the character(s) to which the cringe-worthy events are happening. The Coopers are not awful people, in fact, every member is quite likeable so the hijinks are effective, and often very funny, even when you see them coming a mile away.
“Watch out, it’s another hijink….wait no, it’s worse. It’s a shenanigan!”
Once the bad day starts, the action moves from Alexander to his family, mainly his parents, which is a wise choice given the two adult leads.
Steve Carell could do this kind of role in his sleep, but he brings enthusiasm and heart to his performance.
The true MVP of this movie is Jennifer Garner, who’s as charming and funny as she was in her breakout part in 13 Going On 30. It’s nice to see her back in a light comedy after taking on more serious fare lately.
The one thing that can ruin a movie like this is an irritating child actor. Thankfully, Alexander is free of those. Ed Oxenbould is perfect as the main character, never over-the-top or annoyingly precocious. The wrong kid could have made Alexander seem like a selfish, vindictive jerk (cause, you know, he sorta is). But Oxenbould just comes off like a regular kid with an adorable little lisp who didn’t really want his family to suffer, too much. His movie siblings Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey are great, too, and each gets a chance to shine. Bella Thorne is almost too convincing as snotty ice queen Celia for me to think she’s a nice person in real life (I’m sure she is).
There are some great cameos by Jennifer Coolidge, Megan Mullally, and Dick Van Dyke, who apparently hasn’t aged in about 30 years.
The humor, mostly sight gags, plays it safe for the most part, this is a Disney movie after all; however there are a few surprising bits that inch a little over the line – penis jokes, underage (accidental) drunkenness, and a gag involving male strippers –yet it all still manages to come off inoffensively. Sneaky, Disney, sneaky.
Not that Disney’s ever been completely innocent.
At less than 90 minutes, the movie flies by quickly and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It wraps everything up with a nice little moral about bad days making you appreciate the good ones and sticking together as a family.
I get that it’s important to the story, but would a town really have a school play opening and a junior prom on the same day? Surely there must be parents, like the Coopers, that have kids in both grades for which this would present a scheduling conflict?
I spent a lot of the movie wondering why someone wouldn’t just wash that green highlighter off poor little Trevor’s face. Or take him to the hospital just to make sure he isn’t poisoned.
Alexander is not a film I’d recommend rushing out to the theater to catch, unless you have children that are begging to see it, but if you happen to come across it on Netflix or cable in the not too near future, give it a watch. It’s harmless fun and much more entertaining than you’d think it would be.