To even acknowledge a movie like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Disney, 10.10), much less quote from Justin Chang’s 10.2 review of it, feels like nihilism on my part, but this is a slow day. I have nothing but spitting contempt for anyone who would excitedly buy a ticket to “a passable, tolerable, not unbearable, totally inoffensive adaptation of Judith Viorst’s beloved 1972 children’s book…the sort of busily contrived, one-damned-thing-after-another farce where cars are smashed and Dad gets set on fire, but it all goes down with a spoonful of sugar and a cheery string of studio tie-ins.”
“One of the charms of the original book was that it just allowed stuff to happen, rather than turning life into a series of carefully premeditated Rube Goldberg torture scenarios. Even better, Viorst didn’t feel the need to lift Alexander’s spirits, recognizing that bad moods come and go, and most kids just need time and space to recover. Omitting that sort of pushy uplift here, of course, would be as unthinkable as leaving out the Disney logo, and the final reels come packed with optimistic life lessons (‘You don’t always have to steer your ship with positivity!’), restoring an atmosphere of forced cheer en route to an unreservedly happy ending.