"You gotta have the bad days so you can love the good days even more."
To keep it short I will just refer to this film as Alexander, which is actually based on the children's book written by Judith Viorst which I read when I was a kid. My childhood memories along with the funny trailer drew me to this film so I decided to bring my younger brother to watch this with me as an excuse to relive them. Alexander is your typical family film with a lot of heart and some funny moments, but if you've seen the trailer you can't help but feel like you've seen it all. You know when the funny moments will come and there is not really much more to it. Despite being a family friendly film it is very forgettable and generic. It's a family film that never breaks any genre conventions or offers anything unique to the audience. Kids will love it, but adults might feel like it doesn't have much to offer. Despite its extremely short running time (80 minutes) the film does run out of steam soon and I had some issues with the pacing. I think the trailer worked much better for me than the actual movie. If you are looking for a film to distract your kids than you are in the right hands with Alexander, but if you are looking for more from a family friendly film, then you will be disappointed because there isn't anything original here. Some plot elements may remind you of the much funnier Liar, Liar but it never quite reaches the same comedic level. I was surprised this film was directed by Miguel Arteta who made the raunchy comedy Cedar Rapid, because this film is much more mainstream and clean. I also don't understand the positive grade in RottenTomatoes considering the film really doesn't have much to offer. It is forgettable and could've worked better as a direct to cable film. I would recommend you stick with the book and wait for this film to come on TV next year.
Steve Carell is of course the main attraction of the film and he plays the likable and sweet father pretty well. It was something different from his work in The Office and some of his latest films, but we have seen him in this sort of cute father role in the past. He does make the movie experience much more tolerable and fun. Jennifer Garner plays her usual self and really doesn't bring anything fresh to the movie. The real surprise for me came from Ed Oxenbould who played the titular character, Alexander. He delivers a genuine performance and he never hits a wrong note. The other kids in this film, Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey (who I couldn't quite figure out where I had seen her before until I looked her up in the IMDB and was reminded she played Brad Pitt's daughter in Moneyball) also give solid performances and deliver their share of laughs. Unfortunately the film didn't live up to expectations for me, but in the end I couldn't help but take Alexander's advice (rephrasing it a bit of course), "You gotta have the bad movies so you can love the good ones even more." I should have gone to rewatch Gone Girl instead.