When we meet the Cooper family their busy lives are going pretty well. Mum, Kelly (played by Jennifer Garner), is in charge of a book launch at work and if all goes well will get a promotion to Vice President. Stay at home Dad, Ben (played by Steve Carell), is excited about an interview for a job as a video game designer. Eldest son, Anthony (Dylan Minnette), is going out with his dream girl, is rumoured to be getting a crown at the junior prom and is all set to get his drivers licence. Daughter, Emily (Kerris Dorsey ), has the lead role in the school play, Peter Pan. Even baby Trevor has reached an important milestone in saying his first word. Everyone's lives appear to be perfect except for Alexander (Ed Oxenbould). He woke up with chewing gum in his hair, doesn't get the assignment he wants in class, accidentally starts a fire in the science lab and expects no-one to come to his 12th birthday party because the cool kid in class has his birthday party on the same day. Just when he thinks things can't get worse Alexander accidentally loses baby Trevor's dummy down the sink. For Alexander it has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
According to Alexander no one understands how bad his day has been. At midnight on the morning of his 12th birthday he makes a wish that everyone in his family has a bad day so they can understand what he is going through. And that is exactly what happens.
I didn't have high expectations for this movie when I took my children to watch it. As a Disney family comedy I was expecting a predictable plot, lots of corny dialogue, the usual sibling rivalries and not too many laughs. But I was very pleasantly surprised.
The star of this movie is young Australian actor, Ed Oxenbould, who has the lead role of Alexander. He doesn't overplay the part and his performance is so believable that you do feel sorry for him as his day goes from bad to worse. Although he plays an American in the movie, the character of Alexander is described as being "obsessed with Australia". This allows for an Australian theme to be added to the movie, in the form of Australian animals, lots of Aussie paraphernalia in Alexander's bedroom and a PG rated guest performance by the Thunder from Down Under.
There were plenty of laughs for kids and adults alike in this movie. The other cast members may have been taking their cues from young Ed as there wasn't the cheesiness and OTT performances you usually associate with a Disney family comedy. Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner were both great as the loving but entirely overscheduled parents.
Anyone with a very busy family life will be able to relate to this movie. All the characters have so much going on in their lives and are always rushing from one commitment to the next, as we so often do. The message in the movie could have easily been that we all need to slow down and spend more quality time together as families but instead they went with the theme of you've got to have the bad days in order to appreciate the good ones.
My kids (aged 8 and 11) gave this movie a rating of 4 buckets of popcorn out of 5. I thoroughly enjoyed it too and didn't look at my watch once thinking I hope this ends soon as I often do during kids movies. I would recommend it as a fun school holiday movie. And, Mums and Dads, I don't say this very often but you don't even need a coffee to get through it.