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Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Blu-ray Review)

Alexander-And-TheAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Now Alexander throughout the rest of this review) was a popular book published back in 1972 by Judith Viorst.  I remember that book being a popular book to read even during my youthful years.  Even though, I’m not sure whether I read it or not.  I at least remember that title pretty well.  Once a project over at 20th Century Fox, the film moved to Disney and was released this past October.  In a market hungry for a live action family comedy film, the film prospered to the tune of a great opening weekend and overall awesome box office performance.  This genre seemed somewhat of a thing of the past, not so much popping up with any frequency anymore (Maybe it hasn’t gone away, but I don’t feel I’ve seen anything with prominence, success or marketing like this one).  With the majority positive reviews and a successful box office take, this might mean we see a small resurgence in this kind of film as an option at the multiplex.

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

Film 

The day before Alexander Cooper’s twelfth birthday is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day in its own right.  He feels shut out or slightly neglected by his busy family.  He wakes up with gum in his hair, his birthday party is getting shown up by a cooler kid in school’s party and he’s completely embarrassed himself in front of his big time crush.  That night he makes himself a little birthday sundae and makes a wish that everyone else in his life could experience a bad day like he just did.  The next morning, he gets that wish.

Alexander feels somewhat of a rare breed nowadays.  An all ages family comedy film that’s also live action and contains recognizable actors?  Almost unheard of.  Its a film that manages to cater humor and story to any age watching the film, while also not being afraid to be what it is.  This sort of confidence and commitment seeps through and makes the film that much more enjoyable.  There is also some legitimately funny stuff in the “clean humor” realm as well, which is a nice treat we don’t get too often.

This film also never feels like its “this person” or “that person’s” film.  Everyone is given a natural course of events and time to shine throughout.  Yes, Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner are stars to recognize but they become a part of the movie and let that do the talking.  They take on team player roles to succeed in the whole and not themselves.  To be honest, I thought both were better/more enjoyable in this movie than their prestige pictures they had (Carell in his Oscar nominated Foxcatcher and Garner in Men, Women & Children).  Alexander also features some great cameos, but even those aren’t scene still and just great character actors doing fun solid work to make this movie tick.

Terrible or horrible, getting through this film is not.  Its a breeze.  The film only runs 82 minutes (more like 77, the credits are pretty long).  Alexander is a fast moving and well paced adventure.  It makes twists and turns and has interesting new directions in the second act.  While being a family film, it also never takes the audience, no matter the age, as being dumb or not understanding.  Nothing here is simplified.  The characters actions and reactions all come sort of natural and lifelike.  Sometimes things are played a little bigger for fun, but its earned and it all works.  There’s only one truly dumb moment toward the end of the film that involves Carell chasing a Kangaroo (which honestly could have been cut, but if you look at the runtime, maybe that was added or why it was there).  But, at this point in the film, they earned the right to have that big dumb moment.

Hopefully Alexander is a turning point in modern cinema where we can have the return of (or better versions of) live action family films.  Ones that will work for all audiences.  Not just adult friendly approved, or not one that only the kids are loving.  Tons of movies are release every year, and every weekend at that nowadays, but it feels like a space that is sorely missing.  I remember when I saw a trailer for Alexander I felt like I was looking at an endangered species.  I’m thankful the film was this charming and enjoyable.  Definitely check it out.

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

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail:  As you would expect, Alexander looks terrific on Blu-ray.  The image is crisp and sharp.  Everything has a nice defined look.  Its a natural picture, not overly vivid, but solid and lifelike in appearance.  Detail on stuff like the damage on the wrecked van or vomit on a shirt shows up pristinely.

Black Levels:  Blacks are nice and inky.  There’s a rich look to them and no real detail is lost in any darkly lit scenes or black objects/surfaces/fabrics.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are very natural in appearance.  Greens stick out mostly and are pretty rich and poppy.

Flesh Tones:  Flesh tones are natural and consistent.  Facial features are extremely detailed all the way down to the freckles.  Its very impressive.

Noise/Artifacts:  Nothing witnessed.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, German

Dynamics:  The 5.1 is a pretty grand representation of what’s going on onscreen.  Volume placement is accurate and adds an interactive feeling to the viewing.  Effects, voice and music all sound free and loose without stepping on one another’s toes.

Low Frequency Extension:  Car crashes, a piece of a musical set falling down and a kangaroo kick are just some of the many things that get a nice jump from the sub woofer.  The music in the film also sees a nice boost.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Rear speakers get plenty of ambiance and score pumped through them, with some moments of acting seeping in.  The front channels have plenty of fun with movements and volume shifts, portraying everything on screen with precision.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp and clear.  Some car conversations sound a tad limited and lighter than others.

Alexander 2

Extras 

Alexander comes with a Digital Copy of the film.

Alexander… In Real Life (HD, 5:18) – The author and her son talks about his real life, who the book and events are based on.  Also discusses publishing the book.

Snappy Crocs And Punchy Roos: The Australian Outback Yard Party (HD, 7:12) – A clip on shooting the party scene in the film with behind the scenes footage.

Walkabout: A Video Diary (HD, 6:15) – A little bit about casting the lead kid in the film.  Features his own on set video footage he took as well.

And The Delightful, Magnificent, Very Good Bloopers (HD, 3:34)

“Hurricane” By The Vamps: Music Video (HD, 3:59)

Alexander 3

Summary 

Alexander and his family may have had a bad day, but you’ll have a good time watching it.  Its a terrific little family comedy that proves an enjoyment for all ages.  Disney’s Blu-ray gives you and excellent and accurate presentation in both the audio and visual department.  The extras are very deep in terms of interview or production content, but they’re solid enough for young people to check out.  If you have kids, don’t miss out on Alexander as its one that should satisfy your household with its charming antics.

Alexander-Blu-ray

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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