‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ is a good time

October 10, 2014 6:37 PM

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Author Judith Viorst certainly hit on something enduring with her 1972 children’s book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” The memorable bits start with that mouthful of a title, and continue on Page 1 with the tone-setting image of her beleaguered kid protagonist with gum stuck in his hair. Director Miguel Arteta’s feature adaptation with Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner hangs onto the name and the Juicy Fruit mishap, at least, along with Alexander’s quirky Australia fixation. Beyond that, the movie has to broaden the story — understandably, really — to hit even its brisk hour-and-change running time. What the filmmakers come up with is a modestly likable mix of zany and gently warmhearted, even if they overdo both elements at times.

Newcomer Ed Oxenbould ages Alexander upward by a few years, playing him as a lisping, meekly dorky middle schooler who’d be right at home in a “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” installment. (Viorst’s Alexander makes a yuck face at seeing kissing on TV; Oxenbould’s version has a crush.) Alexander is in some kin...

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