Extraordinary Measures Review
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Throughout his career, Harrison Ford has played some pretty iconic characters. He’s spoken some pretty memorable lines, too. But, no matter how grand and majestic the title of his latest film may sound, there’s nothing iconic about Extraordinary Measures. In fact, the most extraordinary thing about the film is its ability to get a theatrical release.

Based on Geeta Anand’s book, The Cure, Extraordinary Measures tells the true story of a man who’s determined to save his children from a life-threatening disease.

Brendan Fraser stars as John Crowley, the father of two young children who are suffering from a genetic muscular disorder known as Pompe disease. His daughter, Megan (Meredith Droeger), has just turned eight—and though she’s still strong, John and his wife, Aileen (Keri Russell), realize that she could have just a year or so left before the disease claims her life.

  
 
Desperate for a cure, John contacts Dr. Robert Stonehill (Ford), an eccentric biochemist who’s researching the disease. Dr. Stonehill is close to finding a treatment—but he doesn’t have the necessary funding. So the Crowleys agree to help in any way they can—even if it means sacrificing their stability and taking some risks. But as their children get progressively weaker, time begins to run out.

Extraordinary Measures is the kind of movie that makes film critics squirm. On one hand, it’s plagued with bad acting, a rambling script, and a predictable plot. But, on the other hand, it’s based on the true story of a couple of kids in peril, whose loving parents risk everything to try to save their lives. Anyone who dares to say something negative about a movie like this one risks being labeled cold and heartless.

Personally, though, I prefer honesty. So, at the risk of sounding like a callous, cold-blooded critic, I’ll give it to you straight: Extraordinary Measures isn’t a great film. That’s not to say that the story behind it isn’t moving, mind you. It’s a wonderful story; the film, however, is more suited for TV than it is for theatrical release.

For the most part, it rambles along, trying to explain each step of the process in detail—where it took place, who was involved. But while the desire for accuracy is admirable, it’s also somewhat unnecessary—because the story isn’t about the scientific process as much as it’s about the people. In focusing so much on the details, the story loses its emotional resonance.

At the same time, the writing is awkward and unnatural, making Dr. Stonehill sound more like a mad scientist than a brilliant researcher. He’s loud and indignant, and he seems to be more than just a little bit unhinged. Of course, Ford’s wildly overdone performance doesn’t help, either. He spends the majority of the film yelling and flailing his arms (often for no apparent reason)—often making the film unintentionally (and uncomfortably) funny. Meanwhile, his over-the-top performance also makes Fraser look all the more stilted. Perhaps he was just trying to compensate for Ford’s sheer insanity—or maybe he was suffering from some kind of minor paralysis during filming—but, whatever the case, he fails to give his character emotional depth (or neck movement, for that matter). The best performance in the cast actually comes from young Meredith Droeger, who’s absolutely adorable as precocious Megan.

As is usually the case with this kind of film, Extraordinary Measures is melodramatic and manipulative, taking full advantage of the serious subject matter to force tears from the audience. So if you want to have a good cry about sick kids, have at it. But you can probably find something that’s just as effective on tonight’s Lifetime TV listings.

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