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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


SYNOPSIS: 11 year old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) experiences the most terrible and horrible day of his young life. A day that begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by one calamity after another. But when Alexander tells his upbeat family about the misadventures of his disastrous day, he finds little sympathy and wonder if bad things only happen to him. He soon learns that he's not alone, when his mom, dad, brother and sister all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's the snowball effect of this lightweight but enjoyable family film with an appealing cast that makes it funny. Adapted from Judith Viorst's children's book, TV director Miguel Arteta draws us into the lives of a family with pressures and issues we recognize. The characters are likeable, the situations delicious and there are a couple of Australian elements, to boot.

Aussie youngster Ed Oxenbould (soon to be seen in the upcoming film Paper Planes with Sam Worthington) is excellent as Alexander, the 11 year old who has the worst day of his life, the day before his all-important 12th birthday. It all begins when his photo is superimposed on a body with a bikini and circulated around the school. His upcoming birthday party clashes with that of the most popular boy at school, which means no-one will come; he can't compete with a fog machine, a hot tub, frozen yoghurt machine and trampoline.

The day of Alexander's mishaps, things have never been better for the other members of the family. Dad (Steve Carell) has a cool job interview; Mum (Jennifer Garner) is on a promise for a promotion; Anthony (Dylan Minnette) is going to the Prom with the hottest girl at school (Bella Thorne); Emily (Kerris Dorsey) has the title role in the school production of Peter Pan and little baby Trevor (Elise, Zoey Vargas) happily sucks away on his 'bumble-bee' pacifier. The simple wish that the rest of his family understand what it feels like to have such a bad day soon turns into reality.

Watch out for Jennifer Coolidge as the Instructor from Hell, who gives Anthony serious grief when going for his driver's licence. There's also an uncredited cameo by Dick Van Dyke, whose reading of a children's book with lewd typos before its young audience causes a riot.

The other Australian element involves Alexander's passion for all things Australian - to be discovered towards the end of the film. Carell has an easy presence and Garner is wonderfully likeable onscreen. As for the mishaps, of course we can relate to them and are with Alexander and his family all the way, as they stick together, reinforce family values and head into smooth waters.

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(US, 2014)

CAST: Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxenbould, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey

PRODUCER: Lisa Henson, Daniel S. Levine, Shawn Levy

DIRECTOR: Miguel Arteta

SCRIPT: Rob Lieber (Judith Viorst, book)


EDITOR: Pamela Martin

MUSIC: Christophe Beck

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Corenblith

RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studio Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 4, 2014

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