One of the best things that goes along with writing and talking about film on the Flix Junkies podcast is the opportunity it provides to meet some really amazing people.
This week was definitely a highlight for us as we sat down with “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” director, Miguel Arteta, and the ridiculously charismatic 13-year-old star of the film, Ed Oxenbould — you can hear the entire interview at FlixJunkies.com.
And while it was great to share a few jokes, and find out what’s going on with these two talented individuals, perhaps the highlight from the entire exchange was witnessing firsthand how much both men cared about the material they were bringing to the big screen.
“It’s a very honest book,” Arteta explains. “You don’t have seven great days in a row, there will be some bad days, and it’s OK to admit you’re having a bad day. In the book, Alexander has one bad day. And in the movie what we did was, ‘What would happen afterwards? What would happen if we continued where the book left off?’ ”
So should we care about what happens next in a beloved children’s book? Did Disney and Arteta do the right thing by expanding the “Horrible Day” story?
Thankfully, they did, and your family is better off because of it, if you’re looking for a fun move to see together this weekend. Here are three reasons there’s nothing terrible about a "No Good, Very Bad Day."
A movie for the whole family
There are so many terrible movies out there that exist only because they cater to a starving market. Outside of animated films, movies like “The Cat in the Hat” and “Johnny Depp and the Chocolate Factory” highlight the level of respect Hollywood regularly extends to family audiences. But “Horrible Day” is unflinching as it embraces and even celebrates family moviegoers.
“One of the things that definitely got me interested in it was the fact that the whole family can enjoy it,” Oxenbould told us. “You see a lot of animated [family films] which are great, and people put a lot of effort into them and they’re fantastic, but it’s kind of nice seeing normal people going through bad days like everyone else, so it’s cool.”
Whether you are a father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister, there is a relationship you’ll identify with in this movie, and I’ll think you’ll be happy with how your familiar position is represented.
You already know Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner, and you already know where your personal love/hate meter ranks with each actor. But the entire “Horrible Day” movie doesn’t hang on their performances. If you can’t get behind the Alexander character in a movie that revolves around the Alexander character, It doesn’t really matter how charming the supporting cast is.
Luckily, Oxenbould is a great new young talent who has the charm to complement a big cast and sincerity to sell a silly adventure.
While “Earth to Echo” had a few bright spots earlier this year, it was also a reminder of how fragile child casting can be. “Horrible Day” maneuvers through this process beautifully, thanks to the talent they were able to cast and also Arteta’s ability to capture authentic performances.
There is a bright side
In some ways, “Horrible Day” is hard to watch, not only because of its series of no good, escalating circumstances, but because the constant misfortune will be familiar to us. We may not have had days quite this bad, but there’s no question we’ve been in similar trenches, and its always depressing to be reminded of such moments.
However, this is a movie that buries itself deep into the depths of diversity so it can ultimately offer some insight. Many stories have walked this road before, only to come across as preachy or clueless, but “Horrible Day” is coming from a good place, and you’ll be happy to embrace its warm hug of a finale.
“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” isn’t looking to compete with the award films coming out during these final months of the year, and it embraces that lighter identity with pride.
Its sincerity, message and familiar moments will be perfect for people just looking to enjoy a movie with some loved ones, or even a person just having a bad day. Take your critical hat off for 90 minutes this weekend and go have a horrible day with the Cooper family.