Beloved children’s book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” is heading to the big screen with an adaptation starring Australian child actor Ed Oxenbould as the titular hero, Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner. The movie expands Alexander’s bad day from the book into an even bigger disaster that will either make or break his family.
was invited to the set of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” to watch a scene set at Alexander’s dream Australia-themed birthday party. “In this movie, it’s quite different from the book,” Oxenbould tells Zap2it and a group of journalists on set. “They’ve added a whole other day where everything goes wrong except for him. I think he’s just an average kid. He’s not too popular. He’s not really non-popular, but he’s just average. He’s got a couple of friends. His family just doesn’t care about it. Then, in the end, there’s a nice ending. I really like this party.”
Real-life animal trainer Mark Forbes coordinated a day filled with animals like emus, crocodiles, kangaroos and wallabies, which was a treat for the cast even if it was sometimes a logistical challenge.
“The biggest challenge is what we’re doing today which is all the different animals — anytime you add more than one animal into a frame, it’s twice as hard,” Forbes shares. “When you have five in there, it’s not just a little harder — it’s five times as hard. All those animals are having to do their own thing at the right time, when the cameras are on them, and you hope that the one next to them are doing it as well.”
Carell and Garner say that working with the animals is similar to working with the children in the film, but they’ve been lucky with both. Garner credits Oxenbould as bringing the family in “Alexander” — which also includes stars Dylan Minnette and Bella Thorne — together.
“We laugh a lot with those kids all day long. I think Ed really is the heart of our little family unit,” she says. “He loves to play. He’s the star of this movie, he’s going to do all these yo-yo tricks, he’s going to do all these card tricks, he just never stops. I don’t know what they do with him when he’s not on set, he has so much play energy. He plays with the babies, he plays with the older kids, he’s just fun in that way, he includes everyone in his joy.”
Both Carell and Garner have children, and they say that agreeing to make “Alexander” was a way to create some of the live action family movies of their youths for their own kids.
“I guess there is sort of a void there. I don’t see a lot live action family movies,” Carell says. “I don’t want to call this a kid’s movie because I truly don’t think it is, I think it’s funny enough to hold up for much more than kids, I think there is much more depth here, not to be too pretentious about it. I know my kids will really love this movie and that was a lot of my incentive to do it.”
When asked what he thinks the lesson of the movie is, Oxenbould says, “I think just that everyone has bad days. Good days come around and, when they do, you should remember and think, ‘Oh good. This is great.’ To have patience, I guess. I don’t have any, myself. But Alexander does!”
Garner agrees with that assessment, offering her own take. “I think kids love to have their feelings validated and acknowledged and I think the idea that you can just have a rotten day that is horrible that no one understands that is horrible from your point of view in every way feels good, it feels like ‘Oh, I understand that,'” she says. “My kids haven’t seen a bad day in their lives if you look at it from a global perspective but for them they’ve had some real hum-dingers so they love this. ‘Oh, what else happened to Alexander? There’s kissing on TV? I hate kissing on TV.'”
“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” hits theaters on Oct. 10.
Molly Chance contributed to this report