Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford, Keri Russell, Meredith Droeger, Diego Velazquez, Sam M. Hall, Jared Harris, Patrick Bauchau, Alan Ruck, David Clennon, Dee Wallace, Courtney B. Vance, Ayanna Berkshire, P.J. Byrne, Andrea White
Written by: Robert Nelson Jacobs, based on a book by Geeta Anand
Directed by: Tom Vaughan
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material, language and a mild suggestive moment
Running Time: 105
Date: 01/22/2010
IMDB

Extraordinary Measures (2010)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Calling in Sick

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With his new movie Extraordinary Measures, director Tom Vaughan (Starter for 10, What Happens in Vegas) seems to have put more thought into that five-second title card, "inspired by a true story," than he put into the rest of the movie. It's a lazy movie, constantly falling back on real-life heroics to support the sagging fictional scenes. It has no real interest in characters, or family, or science, or corporate greed, or history, and it only uses these things sporadically, intermittently to fit the mood of the latest plot twist.

John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) works in a corporate job whose health care pays for the treatment of his kids, eight year-old Megan (Meredith Droeger) and six year-old Patrick (Diego Velazquez), who have Pompe disease. The movie provides a layman's description of the disease: basically the children are born without a certain enzyme that breaks down sugar. Over time, the sugar builds up and they begin to lose muscle function. Mom Aileen (Keri Russell) appears upbeat most of the time, and in fact, doesn't seem much like a mom at all (she's too thin and perky). Megan and Patrick also have one healthy brother, John Jr. (Sam Hill), who also appears to get along just fine with his siblings. (Wouldn't there be a little resentment over the "attention" factor?) When Megan has a close call in the hospital, worried Crowley contacts (the fictionalized) Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford). Stonehill has been doing groundbreaking research on a replacement enzyme that will fight the disease, but he's not exactly a "people person" and can never raise the money he needs.

That's where Ford comes in; he plays the doctor like an old school curmudgeon, listening to AOR rock at work, driving a rattletrap pickup truck, taking off for fishing trips and calling "bullshit" in a meeting with investors. The movie tries to play Stonehill's old school against Crowley's "new school" but the two men never seem to care enough for one another to truly clash. Moreover, the entire movie feels false, and staged. Nothing here feels as if it might actually have happened. It's all too metered and inevitable. But even as the movie abandons truth, it still can't quite embrace drama.

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