Alexander and the...Very Bad Day

I have a confession to make, I was not prepared to like this movie. But let me tell you why...

If you read my post from yesterday, you know that Jonathan worked as a featured background guy on the new Disney movie, Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. And if you did read all about it, you know that I'm going to be completely insufferable, but that's not important right now.

Movies are not made in a perfectly sequential order. You probably knew that, and I think I did, too, but I wasn't quite prepared with how jumpy and seemingly untethered the story appears as they are working on random scenes. Plus, they shoot scenes over and over and over which is how the director decides which "take" tells the story best.

It makes very little sense to those of us in the peanut gallery.


And, of course, we were only on the set for a few days, so we had absolutely no context for how they were making a 37 page children's book into a 2 hour movie. 

We spent a lot of time (waiting to go on) with the sweet little green-faced twins (little girls) who play the baby, Trevor. And couldn't quite fit him (them) into the story. But as it turned out, that baby was one of our favorite characters once we saw the actual film.

Who knew?


So here's my confession: before I saw the film, I didn't believe. There. I said it. Don't judge.

The movie follows Alexander, a soon to be 12 year old, as he has the very worst day of his young life. He believes he's the only one that ever has bad things happen. 

The next day, he finds out that his mom (Jennifer Garner), dad (Steve Carell), brother (Dylan Minnette) and sister (Kerris Dorsey) all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Anyone who says there is no such thing as a bad day just hasn't had one.


We went to see Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at the Walt Disney Studios (which is already a magical place) with some of Jon's friends and our neighbors. Our group ranged from ages 10 to 20 (not counting me, of course) and every single one of us loved it. 


You know that cliche thing you say, "It's got something for everyone." It's true in this case. The kids loved it. The teens loved it. The adults loved it. Something for everyone.

Congratulations, Disney. You made a wonderfully entertaining family-friendly comedy. I'm sorry I doubted you. 


Also, in case you've forgotten, when you go see the film, (and you must!) remember that Jon was in the limo. #jonwasinthelimo

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day opens in theaters everywhere today, October 10th, 2014.

From the Set to the Red Carpet - NOT A Very Bad Day at All

Sit back. Get some popcorn. I have a wonderful "full circle" type story for you today.

Jonathan worked on the film, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day last summer as a featued background actor. 

It started almost exactly a year ago when Jonathan decided he might like to give acting a shot. He signed up with a casting agency that specializes in background actors. Specifically kids. Because we homeschool and his high school classes were all online, there were no scheduling difficulties. 

He started working almost immediately as he was 17 and a few productions needed teenage background actors. I recall we were on vacation when I received the email asking if he was available to work for a few days in September on an upcoming Disney movie. 

Wait. WHAT?

Disney had a film in production and they needed a few kids to work "featured" background." They were calling them the Prom Kids. That's all the information they gave us. 

Edith Head and Me

We saved the filming dates and the next thing we know, Jon and I are on our way to the Edith Head Building at Universal Studios for a wardrobe fitting. 


Having worked as the costume person (and a huge fan of Edith Head) for theater productions for years, I was completely over-the-moon-out-of-my-skin-excited for the opportunity. I may or may not have made a complete fangirl fool of myself asking a bizzillion questions of the costume people. (Please notice the costumes from Once and Barbra Streisand's skating outfit from Funny Girl. That is all.)


 We still knew nothing about the what or why of the scene or the film, but dutifully followed all the directions we had.


Jon was delighted with his skinny, Euro-tailored suit and Italian leather shoes. Also, the wardrobe people were just lovely. 


We arrived on the set a few days later. Call time was 8:00 am for the days we were there for filming, which meant we left our house at 6:00 am. I know. "Wah, wah...we had to get up early to go work on a Disney movie." (Not complaining at all.)

Getting Camera Ready

First thing in the morning, Jon would check in with the wardrobe, hair, and makeup people. 





Then we were off to the set to "hurry up and wait."

The Prom Kids

There were 5 "featured background" kids - 3 guys and 2 beautiful girls. They quickly bonded - it's a strange feeling being dressed and made up for prom for an entire day, waiting for your scene. They began calling themselves "The Breakfast Club." (Early call times, you know.)


The Japanese Restaurant 

These particular days, the filming took place at a Japanese restaurant in Pasadena, which, in the film is called Nagamaki.  With a bit of movie magic and the change of a sign, we were now in the world of Alexander and his family.


This is where we were esconced during the filming of the restaurant/prom scene. Gratefully, it was air-conditioned. (Which proves the existence of God as far as I'm concerned.)

Hanging with the Talent

All the actors, including the background people, were in different rooms of the (air-conditioned-thank-you-God!) Japanese restaurant waiting for their scenes to be called. 


It was sooo accidentally cool to be:

  • Working on a movie set.
  • With Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner.
  • Keeping our fingers crossed that Jon's "prom moment" would make it into the film.



Steve Carell was truly gracious in allowing photos with the kids. Jon may or may not have said, "You...are my biggest fan," which got a laugh out of Steve. He also bought pizza for 80 people the night we had to stay late on the set. Lovely human.



Is He or Isn't He?

There are two moments in the film, and I mean moments, as in, if you blink, you missed them, where the Prom Kids are featured. 

One is where the characters of Celia and Anthony, played by Bella Thorne and Dylan Minnette see their friends at the Japanese restaurant on prom night.


Cue the Prom Kids.



They took turns walking in with a different person, in a different order. In the film, their "moment" is cut to less than 2 seconds. And no, Jon didn't make the cut. (Note: I totally would have made the same decision if I were the director. It makes sense to the plot of the film.) But still...*sigh*



At the end of the craziness that takes place in the restaurant (by the way, Steve Carell actually caught all those shrimp in his mouth with no CG, but that's not important right now) there's a scene that takes place just outside of a limo. 


They filmed the kids walking to the limo, getting into the limo, sitting in the limo. In the scene that actually made it into the film, Jon is IN THE LIMO. So, no, you don't see him at all on film. But he's IN THE LIMO. 

This has now become the running joke around here: "JON WAS IN THE LIMO!" Or hashtag: #jonwasinthelimo. I guess you had to be there...

What Was It Like on the Set?

You know at the end of a film when they roll the end credits and they go on for miles and miles? Well, those people are my heroes now. I know the stars and the director and producers are the ones who take the bows, but the people who make all the magic happen - the lighting, props, effects, makeup, wardrobe, best boys, and key grips and all that - they are my heroes. 

Not only were they super professional and hard-working, they were delightful and happy to answer all the questions that the über-curious Cuban mom threw at them.

Truthfully, I was giddy and happy and bouncing around with such enthusiasm because I was so happy to just be there (even in the inflatable cast I was wearing around this time) as this was all happening. I don't know if they felt sorry for me, or if my crazy was contagious. I could so appreciate all of their artistry. 


Seriously, prop people, what a fun job!


The Walt Disney Studios

So, here we are one year later and the film, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is ready to be released. Imagine my delight when Disney invited us to pre-screen the movie at the Disney Studios in Burbank. They were gracious enough to let Jon invite his friends. (Thanks, Disney people!)


We prepared them for the two scenes which Jon may or may not have been in.

Afterwards, they were wonderfully supportive (as only good friends can be in that moment when you find out your scenes have been completely cut from a Disney film) and consoled him with, "But, Jon, you were IN THE LIMO!

The Red Carpet Premiere

On Monday, October 6th, we were invited to the Red Carpet Premiere of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day at Disney's El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. (<--Please appreciate that sentence and be appropriately impressed and freaked out with me. Thankyouverymuch.)

Of course, I've already told you about the Press Junket.

As we walked the Red Carpet, I couldn't help but feel grateful at how we had come full circle and had the wonderful opportunity to experience the movie-making process from wardrobe fitting, to being on the set and working on the movie. Now here we were walking the Red Carpet on premiere night. What a gift.



The After-Party

As if it wasn't enough that we had the privilege to see the film with all the stars at the gorgeous El Capitan Theater, we were also invited to the after-party. 

Wait. What? (Somebody pinch me.)

I know. It was so much fun to be a part of the celebration. Dylan Minnette, who plays big brother, Anthony, remembered Jonathan from the days that he spent on the set.


Ed Oxenbould, who plays Alexander is an absolute delight.


We ate, we mingled, we discussed our good fortune to have been invited. I was proud of Jon in that he handled the disappointment beautifully and quickly went back to being his wonderful, goofy self. This whole thing has been a bit surreal.

So there you have it. That's the story of the journey that Jonathan and I took from Movie Set to Red Carpet. I'm still a little bummed that Jon didn't make it into the film at all, but so grateful for the amazing experiences I got to share with my son this past year.


Also, when you go see the film, please remember that: JON WAS IN THE LIMO!

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day opens everywhere on Friday, October 10th, 2014.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Press Junket

I had the absolute pleasure to attend the press junket last week for the newest Disney release, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. A day at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills? Yes, please.

I had already seen (and immensely enjoyed) the film, so I was really looking forward to hearing what the actors had to say. There were 2 panels. The first being made up of the director, Miguel Arteta, the producers: Lisa Henson and Dan Levine, and the screenwriter, Rob Lieber.

To my everlasting delight, director Miguel Arteta invoked the mighty name of John Hughes (let's observe a moment of silence, please) as his inspiration for the way the film unfolded. "Yes!" I thought, "That's exactly how I would've done it." (Of course, that's the way I would have done it in the alternate universe I inhabit where I am in charge of the world, but that's not important right now.)


Call me old-fashioned but I love the idea of bringing back family comedies. The cast seemed to feel exactly the same. 

Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner play the quintessential harried parents trying to raise a family and keep it together for one, crazy, terrible, everything-is-going-wrong day. Steve played it, he said, very much like he interacts with his own kids and wife in his real life. I liked that very much.



Ed Oxenbould is impressive as Alexander, the titular character who can't seem to catch a break on this particular day. He plays an American 12 year old obsessed with Australia, which is ironic because he's actually Australian, but he sounds completely American. (Are you still following?) HE'S AUSTRALIAN, BUT HE'S DOING AN AMERICAN ACCENT. You would never be able to tell unless I shared that with you. Just keep that in mind when you see the film. You're welcome. 

The thing that struck me the most about this junket is how comfortable the actors were with one another. They interacted like, well...a real family. 


And you know how much I LOVE family. Well played, Disney. Well played.

The press junket ended with a special surprise performance by the "Australian Cowboy Dancers." (You need to see the movie to understand the significance.)

That would be Thunder From Down Under, who performed a rolicking (G-rated) dance for us. (They're wearing chaps, people!)


And hung around to mingle with those of us who were slack-jawed amazed by these beautiful specimens. I know. Shut up.


I have some really fun behind-the-scenes stuff to share with you in the next few days, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, here's the trailer for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, October 10th, 2014.