Alexander and the Horrible...
Movie loosely based on book
Monday, unaware that I had fallen into the predictable slump
following an amazing weekend--have patience--you will get all the
details--I was not my usual cheerful self. Worries dominated my
thinking. I was eager and anxious to get Joey cat to the vet. Only
my school committee stipend had not arrived. I had only three weeks
to locate some very expensive library books I'd misplaced. Where
would I get the money to replace them if I couldn't? That sort of
thing. It did not help when Eugene came home in an Oscar the Grouch
persona. Late in the evening I made the unusual decision to put down
the books, grab a beer, and watch a DVD.
To put this in perspective, the most recent time I'd watched one
was back in April when I wanted to take my mind off Joey's emergency
surgery. I had discovered a copy of Disney's Alexander and the
Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I'd borrowed it wondering
how a slim picture book could be stretched out to a feature length
film. I also had wondered darkly what Disney had done to Judith
Viorst's delightful classic. To be perfectly honest, I am not a big
fan of anything Disney. I could write a book on the consumerism,
sexism, ageism etc perpetrated by this American empire.
The movie was good for what it was--a Disney comedy. There were
a lot of funny parts. There were even a couple of spots where
characters gained insight. The most notable was when Alexander's high
school brother chooses family over going to the prom with his shallow,
materialistic girlfriend. Heck, I enjoyed it. I would recommend it
to parents and grands wanting to take kids to a movie where they
wouldn't be blindsided by gratuitous sex and violence. However (and
you knew there was going to be a however)...
1) The movie bore very little resemblance to the book. Both had
a protagonist named Alexander who was a member of a family and had a
In the book Alexander is the middle child of a fairly average
family going through a routine day. He has bad luck his brothers
somehow are spared. He has a cavity and they don't. He is the only
one to get in trouble when they pick up dad at his office, the only
one to not have a prize in his box of cereal... He keeps wanting to
run away to Australia. In the end he realizes that even in Australia
people have bad days. Even adults who weren't only children can
remember days like that. In his simplicity of narration Alexander
In the book the family constellation has changed and the day is
anything but ordinairy. Big Bro is prom bound. Only Sis is about to
star in an eighth grade musical. Mom is on the verge of being
promoted to vice president of her company and Dad has netted an
interview for a plum job. Only Alexander and the pacifier addicted
toddler aren't on the verge of something big. Then Alexander sends
the rest of the family on a crash and burn route by wishing his kind
of day on them. I am guessing the linking with the book was a clever
marketing strategy to draw in people who loved it as kids or parents.
2) The book bore no resemblance to reality (and I am not
alluding to the magic spell) as experienced by the 98%. The birthday
party extravaganza should clue you in. But consider these episodes:
The older son knocks over and destroys his school's glass trophy
cases. He ends up still allowed by the school to go to the prom. If
poverty and/or darker pigmentation were in the picture stricter
penalties and police involvemebt are distinct possibilities.
The only daughter performs the role of Peter Pan obviously stoned out
of her mind. School authorities don't have our insider knowledge that
she's only overdosed on OTC cold meds. Yet none of the manditory
reporters call human services.
The mom zips out of work for a family crisis and doesn't get a pink
slip. If she was employed by fast food or big box retail, what are
The bottom line as I see it: watch the movie, enjoy it, take
the kids. Just don't expect it to be anything more than a Disney
On a personal note, the next day I woke up recovered. We'd get Joey
to the vet somehow. The books would most likely turn up as I
cleaned. And if that those are the biggest worries in my life, I am
pretty darn lucky.
A great big shout out goes out to the author of the original book
which I much prefer to the movie.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod