"Extraordinary Measures" Movie Review (2010)

1/23/2010 Posted by Admin

Movie Review

"Extraordinary Measures"

Directed by Tom Vaughan, Written by Robert Nelson Jacobs, 88 Minutes, Rated PG.

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

The ironic thing about "Extraordinary Measures" is how unextraordinary it is, although I suppose the idea that the filmmakers could take such a simple and potentially great concept and make it so lifeless and silly is pretty extraordinary in itself.

Based on a true story, the film is about a businessman and loving father named John Crowley (Brendan Fraser), who has three children, two of which have the rare and untreatable genetic deficiency Pompe disease. They're ages six and eight, and both have very little time to live. Crowley is completely determined to find some way to help them, and he finds hope in Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford), an eccentric but brilliant researcher who may have found the key to a cure. With Crowley's business smarts and Stonehill's research, the two team up and begin an entire biochemistry company from the ground up.

There's a lot of material in such a plot. The determination of a desperate father, the struggles of a researcher who is so far ahead of the game that he alienates all of his peers, a family nearly torn apart by possible loss, and the conflicts between the little guys and big drug businesses--it all seems as if it would come together perfectly, but because of the general lack of talent involved it all ends up looking and feeling like a bad TV movie.

The most crucial aspect of the film, conveying the disease and how it affects the victims and their families, is handled so poorly as to be offensive. The film portrays the relationship between Crowley and his family in this insanely cliched manner we've seen before in hundreds of films--he's so focused on finding a cure that he doesn't have time to appreciate the family he has. The children themselves, who we should feel immense sympathy for, come off as completely fake and maudlin, almost as if the filmmakers had so little faith in the characters on their own that they had to exaggerate them to get any sympathy.

The poorly handled drama is augmented even more so by the hammy and often lazy performances from Fraser and Ford. Fraser, who has more or less focused on easy adventure films as of late, feels particular out of place with such serious subject matter, and his attempts at emotion seem very forced. Ford doesn't even appear to want to be in the film, constantly cringing, mumbling and yelling incoherently. It's hard not to like him at least somewhat--it's Harrison Ford, after all, who couldn't? But his performance is uninspired, and for such an inherently interesting character to be so boring is a crime.

The direction is also uninspired, and where the film should be ponderous and heartfelt, it's instead corny and obvious. The amount of slow, uplifting musical montages is countless. I know the general audiences doesn't need hours of complex biochemistry talk they won't understand, but surely there's a better way of getting around it than showing Ford sitting in a lab coat writing on a dry erase board for 10 minutes to rock music.

The subject deserves so much better than this film, and it's a real shame this is the best such an extraordinary cure was given.

Grade: D

View the movie trailer for "Extraordinary Measures" below.  What are your thoughts of the movie?

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  1. lisa said...

    It's got the heart strings aspects that even has my kids asking to see it. What's a girl to do? Hmmm, wait for it to come out on DVD... Thanks for the review.

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