Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Ed Oxenbould, Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner. Directed by Miguel Arteta. Rated PG. Opens Friday.
Judith Viorst’s 1972 children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is 32 pages long, with one or two sentences per page alongside charming illustrations of the title character having the worst day a small child can imagine (gum in his hair, no prize in his breakfast cereal, lima beans for dinner). In order to turn that into a live-action feature film, producers have abandoned almost everything about the book except the concept of a bad day, which now extends to Alexander’s entire family (parents, three siblings) and involves large-scale mishaps like a car crash, a school play gone awry and two separate accidental fires. Focusing on the entire family means awkwardly mixing parental career concerns with kid-friendly antics, all of which are handled with middle-of-the-road competence by director Miguel Arteta. Viorst’s book is a beloved classic that has lasted decades; the movie is destined for afternoon filler on the Disney Channel.