'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day': Should Your Kid See It?

My 4-year-old daughter loves going to the movies, so I decided to take her to see the Walt Disney family comedy Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, out in theaters October 10. In this film, based very loosely on the book, a boy fears he's cursed his family with the most catastrophic 24 hours ever. Given my daughter loves giggling at pratfalls, I figured this film would deliver some laughs, and it did not disappoint.


While my daughter laughed at the hijinks -- for instance, the dad (Steve Carell) gets kicked by a kangaroo, a toddler smears permanent green marker on his face -- I as a mom loved the progressive message. For instance, Carell plays a stay-at-home father-mommy, or "fommy." I'm not nuts about the word "fommy," but I liked seeing a dad on the domestic front lines. I also loved the movie's overall message: how, in the end, all family members learn through experience how to empathize more with Alexander, whose life is far less perfect than theirs.

That said, there are a few scenes that parents might take issue with, which is probably why this film is rated PG rather than G. For instance, when I asked my daughter what her favorite part of the movie was afterward, she told me, "When the dad catches fire." Carell, trying to impress some lunch friends by catching shrimp in his mouth, accidentally lights his shirt aflame and can't figure out how to put it out. Carell survives unscathed, but still, this scene might scare some kids -- especially if they're older than my 4-year-old and actually know just how dangerous fire can be.

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Another serious danger portrayed as comic fodder includes when Alexander's older sister drinks a whole bottle of cough syrup before performing as Peter Pan in a school play, then sashays onto the stage clearly drunk. Meanwhile Alexander's older brother commits another no-no: He answers a cellphone call in the middle of a driving test, which causes him to crash the car (and fail the test, of course).

Parents should also prepare for plenty of butt jokes and colorful words you might not like your kids picking up, like "crap," "idiot," and "sucks." Then, to top things off, Carell accidentally hires male strippers for Alexander's birthday party. Thankfully after a few hip swivels and layers of leather come off, Carell catches his mistake and asks them to dance "PG" for the rest of the party.

But aside from these questionable moments, I'd wager that you and your kids will enjoy this movie as well as the moral of the story: that family members can help get us through the absolute worst days and make everything okay. Awww ... isn't that something you want your kids to hear? 

Here's a video of Carell catching fire, in case you want to gauge whether your kids can stomach it:

Did you see the movie? Did you think it was appropriate for kids?


Image via Walt Disney Films

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