Today’s Prayer Focus

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

also known as “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day,” “Alexander y el día terrible, horrible, espantoso, horroroso,” “Alexander y un día terrible, horrible, malo... ¡muy malo!”, See more »
MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for rude humor including some reckless behavior and language.

Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Kids Family Teens Adults
Genre: Family Comedy Adaptation
Length: 1 hr. 21 min.
Year of Release: 2014
USA Release: October 10, 2014 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: February 10, 2015
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

What is appropriate use of cell phones?

dangers of posting and sharing personal information on-line

enduring frustrating days

peer pressure

girlfriends (or boyfriends) who are very domineering—pretty on the outside, but not on the inside

goodness in the Bible

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Does God feel our pain? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

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Featuring Steve CarellBen Cooper
Jennifer GarnerKelly Cooper
Ed Oxenbould … Alexander Cooper
Dylan Minnette … Anthony Cooper
Kerris Dorsey … Emily Cooper
Dick Van Dyke … Himself
Jennifer CoolidgeMs. Suggs
Elise Vargas … Baby Trevor
Zoey Vargas … Baby Trevor
Sidney Fullmer … Becky Gibson
Bella ThorneCelia
Megan Mullally … Nina
Mekai Curtis (Mekai Matthew Curtis) … Paul Dumphy
See all »
Director Miguel Arteta — “Youth in Revolt” (2009)
Producer Walt Disney Pictures
21 Laps Entertainment
See all »

“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad” is based on the book by Judith Voirst. Since I have owned this book for years, I looked forward to the movie, although I wondered if a short children’s book could be made into a full length movie capable of keeping to the storyline.

Alexander Cooper, played by Ed Oxenbould, is almost 12 years old and seems to have very bad days often, while all of his family seems like they have the perfect life. He seems resentful of his family and feels like he doesn’t belong. At 12:01 AM, on his 12th birthday, Alexander wishes that his family could have a day like his usually are, so they can see that life isn’t always wonderful.

The next morning, he wakes up and is having a good day while the rest of his family gets off to a rocky start. His father, Ben Cooper, played by Steve Carell, has to go on a job interview with baby, Trevor. His sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) wakes up with a cold on the day of her acting debut. His mother, Kelly Cooper (Jennifer Garner) wakes up late on the day when her children’s book is to be released and read by Dick Van Dyke. Anthony (Dylan Minnette), his older brother, wakes up with a huge pimple on his forehead and, of course, it is the day of the junior prom.

Overall, this movie is pretty clean by today’s standards, however, there are a few issues that might bother some parents. Alexander’s picture is taken with a cell phone and his face is put on girls’ bodies. One of them is a bikini model and another is one with a thong on (although it is only shown from the front). These pictures go viral, and the whole school sees them. Of course, these issues are ones facing many 12 year olds, and this can lead to an excellent discussion on what is appropriate use of cell phones and the dangers of posting and sharing information on-line.

There is some crude language which includes “nice boobs,” “cute butt,” “butt thong,” “crap day,” “dating the hottest girl,” “penis—(Mom says, “I’ve seen every penis in this car,” “take a dump,” “make out in the back of the van,” several uses of the word “sucks,” and “Daddy wishes he could swear right now.” There are also some uses of “Oh my g*d.”

Ben Cooper goes out to a restaurant and is drinking and doing shots. Emily takes too much cold medicine, acts goofy and then ends up vomiting several times. Kelly opens the door on her oldest son while he is in the bathroom. Trevor, the baby, pees in the kitchen.

At the end of the movie, there is an Australian-themed party for Alexander. Male strippers appear, at least the implication is very strong that that’s who they are, as the men strut into the party with a boombox and ask where they can set up. Before anything happens, mom and dad, yell to them to keep it PG.

There is a scene with Anthony driving and hitting everything in sight, while there is lots of screaming and yelling. The family kicks garbage cans in anger. Anthony also knocks over trophy cases in school. Ben gets kicked by a kangaroo.

The best thing about this movie is that it shows a father who feels a responsibility to care for his family, who puts them first and understands that he is supposed to carry the burden for them. This is so often missing in today’s movies. The other positive message is when Anthony realizes that his beautiful girlfriend is not a very nice person and dumps her.

Face it, we all have good days, and we all have bad days. I often joke that Ecclesiastes paraphrased is “Life stinks and then you die, and sometimes good things happen in between.” A character in the movie says, “If it weren’t for bad days, we wouldn’t appreciate the good ones.” This is very similar to what Ecclesiastes 7:14 says,

“When times are good, be joyful; when times are bad, consider this: God made the one as well as the other, so people won’t seek anything outside of his best…”

My family enjoyed this movie, and I would recommend seeing it with caution. Obviously, Disney has incorporated too much potty humor in this movie, but with parental guidance and discussions afterward, these can be teachable moments.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I wanted to see a funny movie, and this is a really funny family film. Everything that can go wrong goes wrong for this family of frenetically busy parents and their busy kids. Underlying the dramatic action is the concept of family—the value of family and the unconditional love of parents for their children. It was really heartwarming to see these values highlighted. I also had half a dozen laugh-out loud-til-I-cried moments. This is an entertaining movie for adults, and I am assuming it would be interesting for young people. There are a few light bathroom joke elements, but I would not call them particularly offensive.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Halyna Barannik, age 68 (USA)
Positive—Seeing a Hollywood film that does not rely heavily on special effects and more on story is refreshing. Even though it is low budget, my 14 year old daughter and I were certainly entertained. This movie doesn’t need to be viewed on the big screen to be enjoyable, so with a competitive movie roster this Fall, if you need to postpone viewing in the theater fortunately today we can eventually see any film on DVD but going to the theater would be showing support for a well done, fairly clean movie.

With all the complete moral garbage coming out of Hollyweird these days we need to do what we can, if we are movie goers at all, to send them the message that we will support these types of films and discourage the societal destabilizing messages that they seem to enjoy putting out there by not supporting movies not worthy of support.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Bob C., age 51 (USA)
Positive—It’s rare to be able to view a PG film these days. From age 8 to grandparents, we all enjoyed the film as a family. It was quite refreshing, really, to see a rather “clean” film. No regrets.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
David, age 47 (USA)
Positive—I enjoyed this movie a lot and the way it was portrayed. It reminded me a lot of the movie “Mom’s Night Out” which is a great Christian comedy. It was fast paced and funny and showed all the things that could happen in a single day. I enjoyed how the family (The Coopers) were loving and cared a lot about each other. It is something you do not see in many movies these days.

The teens and kids in movies these days usually talk disrespectfully to their parents and pick a lot on their siblings. In this movie I didn’t see that at all. Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner played great parents and showed a great relationship. They both expressed how much they truly love their children and what is going on in their lives. A great family movie to watch. It was a lot of fun.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Jonathan, age 20 (USA)
Neutral—We watched it for a family night; knowing it was PG, I felt that it might be an okay family movie. After watching… I liked the overall message in the story on how a family sticks together even on bad days, and, at times, it was funny.

I was however very offended at the use of “penis” 3 times in the movie, right off in the beginning of the movie. There was a few other crude comments in the movie. I wish they would of rated the movie PG-13, so that I would of viewed it prior and not subjected my younger children to the content. If I had viewed it before family night, I would not of let my young children watch it. We try very hard to raise our children in a good moral Christian home and anymore we feel we have to view most movies long before our children to see if it is appropriate. We only allow our older teens to watch PG-13 if we have seen it first and find it appropriate for viewing. They very seldom make G rated good movies anymore.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Micky, age 49 (USA)
Negative—We were so disappointed in this movie—where to start—the multiple times male private parts are mentioned in the beginning of the movie, a scene where a mother accidentally opens the bathroom door when her teenage son is in there—but she looks “down” before closing the door. There is another scene where the mother puts her hand on her son’s leg to make him drive faster—and he implies she needs to remove it asap—or he might become excited—which was such a disgusting theme.

Others say it is funny that male strippers were in the movie—but exposing young children to the concept is also disgusting to me. Save your money, save your children—don’t see this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Paulette, age 50 (USA)
Comments from young people


Comments from non-viewers
Negative—My family could only watch roughly 20 minutes of this movie. In one scene, the popular boy mentions “boobs,” Alexander’s brothers tells his hot girlfriend how much he loves her bootie, then Alexander’s mom tells all her boys that she has seen all their penis’s. That was it, I had to shut it off. My children are 5, 9, and 13. I’m not going to sit down with my 9 year old daughter and explain personal male parts. My children are too important. This movie was NOT!
Dee, age 36 (USA)
Negative—I have read from other Christian sites that review movies about some of the content in this movie, and it is not something Christian families should see. Just because a movie is from Disney doesn’t mean it’s an okay movie to watch. Even the review above mentions strippers in the movie. Just because the world considers stuff like that okay doesn’t mean we should.
Alex Johnson, age 23 (USA)

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