I expected very little from this movie, as both Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner carry substantially less weight than they used to. Movies like this are the reason reviews exist though, since these movies can go either way and people are likely interested. These books were popular in my childhood, so there may be a nostalgia factor for some people.
The gist is that Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) has terrible days almost everyday. Our movie opens with everyone else in his family having a stellar day while he has one of the worst ever. His dad (Carell) is up for a job in a video game design company, while his mom (Garner) is about to be promoted. Alexander’s sister (Kerris Dorsey) is about to open in her school’s musical, while his brother (Dylan Minnette) is about to go to prom with the most popular girl in school. After a horrible day, Alexander makes a wish that they could experience just one bad day… and he gets his wish.
Going in with such low standards, this movie just had to not be awful and I’d have a pretty good time. And with that perspective, I had a pretty good time.
The lead, relative newcomer Ed Oxenbould, was really fun in the title role. He was awkward enough to feel sorry for at key moments but he also was charismatic enough that you can see him having a future in comedy, once he grows up. The casting for his family was pretty spot-on, with Garner and Carell both carrying their weight.
There were plenty of funny moments but it was also pretty touching in the finale, when all the life lessons are learned. The movie is incredibly predictable, but I had a good time watching it.
What doesn’t work?
First off, the movie is predictable and is everything you’d expect it to be. A lot of the movie is stuff happening that is frustrating, as their plans fall apart. This can be hard to watch, as it made me really anxious, but the payoff at the end was worth the journey.
My biggest complaint though… The trailers for this movie showed off one of the biggest emotional payoff moments in the film. If I hadn’t seen it, I might have even teared up a little (but I’m also a sucker) but instead, this moment was ruined. Stop doing this!
This is a family comedy that is extremely predictable and even moreso if you’ve seen the trailers that give away key moments. In execution though, the whole team contributes here and it’s a fun ride. Much better than I expected but the movie is sure to be forgotten.