Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

Bearing so little resemblance to Judith Viorst’s 1972 kid classic that the matching titles may as well be coincidental, the movie version of “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day” is a pointless series of wacky mishaps that befall a generic suburban family over the course of 24 hours. But where many kids’ movies pummel the audience, with a message or moral, this one is content to resolve itself without anyone learning anything or overcoming any obstacles. Things turn out OK for everybody in the end, but only through dumb luck.

Directed by Miguel Arteta (“Youth in Revolt,” “Cedar Rapids”) from a one-note screenplay by first-timer Rob Lieber, the congenially frenetic farce has middle-schooler Alexander (Ed Oxenbould), his parents (Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner), and his siblings (Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey) dealing with things like accidental fires, failed driver’s tests, and botched book launches. But the film is too easy-going to let anyone’s frustration boil over into hilarious outbursts, and too lazy to organize the chaos into coherent jokes. It might not even technically qualify as a “story.”

D (1 hr., 21 min.; PG, a little crude humor.)

Reprinted from City Weekly.