Starring: Ed Oxenbould, Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey, Bella Thorne, Megan Mullally, Donald Glover, Dick Van Dyke
Directed By: Miguel Arteta
Can we just discuss for a moment how bizarre it is that Miguel Arteta is attached to this project? This is a director who became well known for edgy indie fare like Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl, and Cedar Rapids. He’s directed episodes of American Horror Story, House Of Lies, Nurse Jackie, and Six Feet Under. So… he’s doing a Disney film?
He might also be the reason I kinda liked the film.
As far as a ‘family friendly’ film goes, it does have a few cute moments and some laughs that won’t make you hate yourself later for laughing (like Grown Ups will). And Carell and Garner seem to be game for whatever comes their way. I know Garner is actually 42, and could definitely parent a 16 year old child, but in my mind… she’s not 42. She seemed too young to have a 16 year old, until I went to IMDB and found out what her age actually is. So, kudos to Jennifer Garner for aging so well. Carell also doesn’t look 52, so while he does look older than Garner, it doesn’t make their relationship creepy.
The kids are good. Oxenbould is adequate, but could probably use just a little more marinating. He hasn’t quite had the experience Minnette has had in films like Prisoners and TV shows like Scandal and Awake. Dorsey is also a TV vet, having spent several seasons on Brothers and Sisters, and now Ray Donovan. Oxenbould is really hitting his first big break, and he stands out as a little weaker than the rest of his family.
It’s a good adaptation of the book, possibly even moreso than Where The Wild Things Are. The original Alexander book is mostly a picture book, with little story to adapt. The writers here really took a gigantic leap of faith and built a story around a concept, and it works. Where The Wild Things Are tried too hard to stay close to a barely there story, while Alexander just takes the basic concept and runs with it.
It’s a decent way to spend an hour and a half with your family, and not have to worry too much about content.
FINAL GRADE: B