Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day actually covers two days. The first is the birthday eve of Alexander (Ed Oxenbould), a lousy day that garners little sympathy from his family.
He wishes his happy family members would know what it’s like for things to suck, and then they all have a rotten and absurdly packed day, one in which Alexander’s househusband father, Ben (Steve Carell), has an important job interview, publishing-executive mother Kelly (Jennifer Garner) has to oversee a major book launch, sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) is debuting as Peter Pan in a school play, and brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) has his driving test and the junior prom.
Everything that can go wrong does, and while it has its moments, Miguel Arteta’s comedy relies too much on gender-shaming and emasculation jokes. Alexander becomes a laughingstock when pictures circulate of his face pasted on sexy ladies’ bodies; because Ben is the primary caregiver to the family infant, he’s labeled a Fommy (it’s a portmanteau, geddit?); and when circumstances force Ben to don a pirate shirt, characters insist on calling it a pirate blouse, like nobody does in reality. That’s just lazy writing, and no good at all.