Monday, January 4, 2010

Extraordinary Measures

Sometimes you can tell the makers of a film had a lot of trouble deciding what to call their movie. With a title like “Extraordinary Measures” you might expect to find an action movie, or possibly something about saving a kidnapped child, but that is not what this is; this is a sick-kid movie.

John Crowley (Brendan Fraser: “The Mummy” movies) seems to have it all; he has a lovely wife, Aileen (Keri Russel: “Felicity”), and three kids. He's on the path to make vice president at his company within the year. He has a nice house, and a nice car, but there's one very large problem; two of his children suffer from Pompe disease (a disease that I had never actually heard of before), and are nearing the upper range of life expectancy for sufferers of that illness.

John is desperate to find help for his children, and all his research points to Doctor Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford) as the best hope for finding a treatment. Stonehill is an unconventional sort of doctor (you can tell because he wears blue jeans and listens to loud music); he's obnoxious and impossible to get along with, but he's also a genius, and the best hope at finding a usable treatment.

Of course nothing comes free, so it's up to John to find Doctor Stonehill financial backing and try to guide him through the obstacles of the business side of medcine to arrive at a usable treatment before it's too late for his children. Can John successfully risk everything to save what he values the most?

As I said, this is a sick-kid movie, similar in style to “My Sister's Keeper”, but nowhere near as dark. This movie largely keeps a hopeful outlook through the whole story, but don't think that means that it does not throw things at you with the sole intent of making you cry. The movie does find a nice balance between the sad drama of the overall story and humour injected by the characters.

While all of the actors are more than competent, Meredith Droeger, as Megan Crowley, manages to steal most every scene she is in. Whether she's chasing her older brother around or challenging Harrison Ford to a footrace, all from the confinement of her wheelchair, she definitely shows what is at stake if John and Doctor Stonehill fail.

The only real criticism I have of this film is the casting of Brendan Fraser in a relatively heavy role. I found it hard to watch him trying to be serious and not see his characters in either “The Mummy” or “Looney Tunes: Back In Action” standing there. His performance was not bad, it's just been so long since I have seen him in a real serious role that it's hard for me to see that face and take him seriously.

If you are a fan of sick-kid movies, but find films like “My Sister's Keeper” to be just a little too heavy the this may well be the film for you. Sure this movie will try to make you cry, but the overall tone of it is one of hope, and it never lets things get too depressingly heavy. As far as this type of movie goes, I found it to be quite enjoyable, even if I did find myself glancing at my watch a few times towards the end.

Is this movie a must see? No, not really. You're not going to miss out on anything by waiting to rent this on DVD, but if you want to go to the theater and see a movie not laden with CGI explosions you could do a lot worse. “Extraordinary Measures” hits theaters on January 22nd.

Like zombies? Check out ”Mallville – A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse”, my free ongoing blognovel.

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