Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

FAMILY; 1hr 21min

STARRING: Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxenbould

Enfant terrible: Oxenbould

The life of 11-year-old Alexander Cooper (Oxenbould) stretches the elastic concept of Terrible, Horrible, No Good and Very Bad to snapping point. Everyone else in his shiny clan — publishing-exec mom Kelly (Garner), engineer dad Ben (Carell), teen sibs Anthony and Emily (Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey) and even baby Trevor — is haloed in an idealised glow of accomplishment and goodwill. That leaves Alexander, for whom many things repeatedly go wrong, out on his lonesome. He’s the text joke of his school. He sets the science lab on fire. And so on, and here we go until one day, as though mass-cursed, mom, dad and sibs wake up — late — to the most unendurable day of their previously charmed and resolutely middle-class lives.

The first law of innocuous family-fun movies, especially one based on a beloved book — which this is: Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book of the same, Very Long name — is that bad is odds-on to skid into worse. But since the second law is that G-ratings and sunny side up go hand-in-glove, the stout-hearted Coopers soldier through, finding unity in adversity while happily making lemonade from lemons. What else would they be doing in mondo Disney?