Extraordinary Measures was hardly a success when it was released in 2010, recouping less than half of its budget. Whereas many of the recent films on my list have been critically and commercially successful, this one failed, a true shame since it is a high-quality movie with meaty roles for two underrated actors. Brendan Fraser gives his best performance in years as dauntless parent John Crowley and actually gets to act rather than feign silliness (don’t get me started on Furry Vengeance). Harrison Ford also bucks his action hero persona in favor of a scientist, and though Dr. Stonehill is less than personable for much of the film, Ford succeeds at portraying both his obsessive scientific confidence and his latent soft spot for Crowley’s suffering kids. A scene in which both of them must swallow their pride and choose their words carefully illustrates both actors’ ability, as we can recognize what must be going through their heads and how they might like to respond.
Though some critics characterized the film as a typical TV-caliber tearjerker, it offers more than that, namely an insightful glimpse at the pharmaceutical industry. While such scrutinizing of business practices could have been tedious and dull, the film frames each meeting or funding petition as another step on Crowley’s quest for a cure and never gets bogged down in too much corporate jargon. Likewise, Stonehill gives a straightforward explanation of Pompe disease, a lesser-known form of enzyme deficiency, giving the viewer just enough information to understand without growing bored.
Overall, the film is about a father’s love for his children. As the film starts, with Crowley showing up late for his daughter’s birthday party, there’s the possibility that Crowley is one of those clichéd fathers who puts his job before his kids, but it’s soon clear that he’s practically an ideal parent, the kind that makes his kids laugh but stays up late worrying about them. The Crowleys were already doing all in their power, so it seemed, to care for their sick kids, but John took it upon himself to do more, leading to a life-saving drug for countless children, including his own. This kind of “making a miracle” instead of waiting for one is the true message of Extraordinary Measures, a film that remains intelligent while pushing all the right emotional buttons.Best line: (Crowley, after being fired for all the right reasons) “Well, thank you very much for firing me.” (Dr. Webber, played by Jared Harris) “My pleasure, I never liked you.” (Crowley, still amiable) “Likewise.”
Artistry: 8 Characters/Actors: 9 Entertainment: 8 Visual Effects: N/A Originality: 8 Watchability: 9 Other (two favorite actors making the potentially boring interesting): +7 Other (language): -1 TOTAL: 48 out of 60
Next: #137 – Airplane!
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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