Movie characters who are having a very bad day

We take a look at movie characters who may have been better off giving today a skip…

ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY is released in Irish cinemas this week, and tells the story of a day in the life of Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) who is used to having bad days, but finds that things quickly fall apart when he wishes his family could see how it feels.
Alexander actually ends up having a pretty good day, but his family is not so lucky. With this in mind, we decided to take a look at movie characters whose days could not get much worse…

John McClane – DIE HARD

All John McClane (Bruce Willis) wants to do is spend Christmas with his family, but Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) has other ideas… McClane’s family is taken hostage at a Christmas Party in LA, and it is up to McClane to save the day.
So not only is McClane trying to make amends with his estranged wife, but he now has terrorists to deal with. Add to this some stolen detonators, bare feet and broken glass, and crawling through air vents, and you can be pretty sure that John McClane is having a pretty bad day.

Paul Conroy – BURIED

While working in Iraq, truck driver Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is attacked, taken hostage and buried alive with only a lighter, flask, flashlight, knife, glowsticks, pen and a mobile phone. When Paul gets a call from his kidnapper and is told his ransom has been set at $5 million, Paul realises he must do everything he can in order to survive.
Waking up in a coffin, buried alive is the start to anyone’s worst nightmare, but Paul Conroy’s day only manages to get worse from there; he is told he has been fired, lost his pension and benefits, has to watch a video of a colleague being killed, cut off his finger and convince the State Department to rescue him. That’s enough to get anyone down, but then bombings damage Conroy’s coffin, and it begins to fill with sand…

William Foster – FALLING DOWN

Life has not been going Foster’s (Michael Douglas) way recently; he is recently divorced, has a restraining order against him, which prohibits him from seeing his child, and was recently laid off from his job. All of this comes to a head, as Foster sits in LA traffic and the air conditioning in his car fails. All he wants to do is get to his kid’s birthday party, but Fosters mounting frustration at life leads him on a violent rampage across the city.
As if all this was not bad enough, this is just the start of Foster’s day. After he abandons his car, Foster is threatened by a store owner after ranting about prices, almost mugged at knife point, can’t get breakfast because it’s too late in the day and is hassled by someone as he tries to use the phone. OK, Foster definitely has some anger management issues in FALLING DOWN, but it’s hard to disagree with the fact that this man is having a very, very bad day.


Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) wakes up on a Thursday morning with a hangover. He’s not happy about this, and even less happy that the council wants to bulldoze his house to make way for a bypass. As he lies in mud, blocking the bulldozers, his friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def/Yasiin Bey) arrives to deliver even worse news.
It’s bad enough to wake up with a hangover, and even worse to find out that your house is to be demolished without adding in the notion that the entire Earth is to be destroyed to make way for a Hyperspace Bypass – oh irony! – that your best friend is an alien and the outfit you are about to get sent into space in is your pyjamas and dressing gown. Poor Arthur Dent, surely it can only get better from here… Right?

Jack Traven – SPEED

Being a SWAT officer is a tough job, and Jack Traven is not having the best of days; he and his partner corner a bomber threatening to blow up an elevator full of hostages, but when the bomber grabs Jack’s partner, Jack has no choice but to shoot his colleague. They save the elevator full of people, but Jack has to deal with the fact that he shot his friend. And then a bus full of people blows up.
Poor old Jack Traven, you’d really think that one hostage situation was enough for one day, but he is thrown into the thick of things again when he learns that another city bus is rigged to blow. Jack finds himself on a bus that must stay above 50mph if the passengers are to survive, and is forced to make tough choices about traffic, his colleagues and how to deal with the bomber when he catches him. Phew! All that and love blooms where Jack least expects it.

Honourable mentions to… Lucas – EMPIRE RECORDS, Romeo – ROMEO & JULIET and Jake Hoyt – TRAINING DAY.

ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY is released in Irish cinemas on October 24th

Words: Brogen Hayes