You can laugh at having a ‘Terrible Day’ in Pasadena

You’re name doesn’t have to be Alexander to have a bad day in Pasadena, but if you’re from Pasadena or have been living here, then watching Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ will have the additional fun of trying to identify all the places in Pasadena and South Pasadena there were used for filming.

You might have even seen a very distinctive car being driven down the streets and wondered just how that could be legal. It wasn’t legal; it was Hollywood.  Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner may be the human stars, but the streets of Pasadena are prominently displayed.

The movie is based on Judith Viorst’s 1972 children’s book of the same name. Alexander Cooper is an 11-year-old boy who has bad days often. His older brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) and sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) don’t seem to have bad days.  Emily is starring in the production of “Peter Pan.” Anthony has a gorgeous girlfriend and just needs to pass his driver’s exam and drive to the junior prom.

Even though Alexander’s father, Ben (Carell),  has been unemployed for several months, Alexander tells us, “Dad is a relentless optimist.” Ben’s been taking care of Baby Trevor (Elise and Zoey Vargas), but has just gotten an interview with a gaming company. His mother, Kelly (Garner), has been promised a promotion by her humorless boss Nina (Megan Mulally) if her next book event–a celebrity reading featuring Dick Van Dyke–goes well.

The day before his birthday, not only is Alexander having a bad day, his birthday party may be even worse. No one will be attending his birthday party because everyone, including his best friend are going to someone else’s party and Alexander just burned the lab notes for the girl he has a crush on. Alexander complains, “My parents say there’s no such thing as a bad day.” So he  makes a birthday wish–that his family have a bad day.

The day doesn’t start well. Emily who has a cold but today is the opening of “Peter Pan.” Anthony has an enormous zit on his forehead and his girlfriend isn’t speaking to him. The battery is dead on Kelly’s car and now Ben has to chauffeur everyone around. Ben drops the kids off at school (Marshall Fundamental High School on Allen).

While these are just normal every day glitches, things begin to go monumentally wrong as the movie poster suggests. Garner’s character cycles down Mission Street (South Pasadena) to get to Vroman’s where she unsuccessfully tries to prevent Van Dyke (as himself) from reading a children’s book full of unfortunate typos. You’ll recognize Vroman’s facade and even see the sign for Canterbury Records in the background.

Residential shots were taken on Buena Vista Street in South Pasadena, 2250 and 2001 Bridgen Drive in Pasadena, on 450-766 Villa Street and on Orange Grove between Lake and Allen.

While the story is predictable–about how families can bond during bad times as long as you keep your cool (although kicking trash cans when you’re really frustrated is allowed), there’s something reassuring and even relaxing about watching someone have a day far worse than you’ve ever had. You’re family might even be able to bond over it while trying to identify all the places in Pasadena.

And while you might not believe in bad luck, black cats and birthday wishes, to be on the safe side, wish everyone a good day, even a great day, but not terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY” opens Friday. Marshall Fundamental High School, which has been featured in movies such as “One Eight Seven,” “13 Going on 30” (another Jennifer Garner movie), “Transformers” and “We Bought a Zoo,” will be featured in the early 2015 release “McFarland USA.”


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