Parents' Guide to

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

By Yvonne Condes, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Sweet book-based comedy has great family messages.

Movie PG 2014 81 minutes
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 42 parent reviews

age 8+

Fun family film, includes some great conversation starters on important topics

I was unaware this film existed and when we started watching it was surprised to see actual Hollywood talent in it, as I assumed this was something much lower in budget. As other reviewers comment it does derive comedic value from some risqué themes, but does so in a suitable way and one you can build important conversations on easily. The only three problems for us were the endorsement of women as objects in the “app photo editing” scene (brief, implied more than shown); the joke for the adults about Australian cowboys (it’s an odd choice but they remain clothed and it should fly right over the kids heads); and the big one: the comedic abuse of over the counter medicine. It has real consequences was funny. My kids - like a lot of kids - have lost family members to the opioid crisis. While I think it’s very weird someone approved this for a family movie it created a good platform for us to talk about the issues which, to me, is important to start young and do often. Honestly the only real problematic issue we actually had was the bar it sets on what a birthday party could look like and can they have a crocodile at their next birthday. Characters do make choices that would be dangerous if imitated - so if your kids like to copy (mine don’t) you might want to look elsewhere. With the backbone of some really wholesome messages, as long as you can stand your kids hearing the word “penis” you’ll have a good time.
age 5+

This was a really fun family movie!

I thought this was a really fun movie! I watch with a five and six year-old and they really enjoyed it. The scenes complained about in other reviews went right over their heads. They understood the main lessons of importance of family and making the best out of even the worst situations.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (42 ):
Kids say (57 ):

This is a cute family movie with great messages that tweens and parents will enjoy together. It's based on Judith Viorst's classic book of the same name, but it feels as much like that book as it does Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Alexander, charmingly played by Oxenbould, captures what it's like to be an awkward tween in love with a girl for the first time and stuck in the middle of a perfect family. And, the Coopers at first seem a little too perfect (talented sister, popular son, handsome dad, beautiful mom), but Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day really turns funny -- and relatable -- when the whole clan's day becomes terrible, horrible.

Carell is great at playing a man who initially appears to be the world's most patient, loving, and optimistic dad -- and he's even better when he's a mess. Garner's working mom expresses a realistic amount of guilt when she stares longingly at her baby, but she really shines when she gets to let loose. There are some funny jokes that will go over kids' head -- so parents won't be bored -- as well as enough action and laughs to keep kids entertained, too.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate