Thursday, January 28, 2010

Extraordinary Measures

The Flick: Extraordinary Measures

The Actors: Harrison Ford, Brendan Frazier, Kerry Russell, etc.

The Dealio: Reportedly based on a true story. Why does that phrase, used to boost a movie, always fill me with mixed feelings? Well, none the less, here we go:
Frazier and Russell, fairly affluent parents of two children with Pompe Disease- and one without- are on the verge of despair as they seek some sort of magic elixir which will- if not cure the two, at least give them a level of improvement, and then a remission of the symptoms. Which are life-threatening.
Frazier does his usual, furrowed-browed turn as someone required to balance his intense emotions with intense salesmanship. It is entertaining to me to see just how prodigious his abilities to sell actually are: whether it is his believability as a caveman adrift in the modern world, his derring-do against the forces of the dread Mummy ('Same mummy. Twice'), or, in this case, a parent tortured by the spectre of an orphan illness hanging over his entire family. Russell (love her!) reliable, dependable, invested as the frazzled, yet, beneath it all, pretty cool mom, putting a brave face on all manner of threats to her little fam. Harrison Ford- who, I am sure, got this movie made, by sheer willingness to appear in the thing, plays a sincere, hard-working, scenery-chewing, establishment-stompin' researcher, and you can almost hear 'Please help are our only hope' swiped from that other little film he made decades ago.
Of course, there is the predictable 'race against time', clash of the medical-industrial machine against the little guy, the heartstrings-tugging involved in putting faces on a little-known disease. But is there a dollop of suspense, a moment of doubt, an instant when you wonder if things will kinda, sorta, work out for our valiant troop? Um. Not really.

The Grading Session: 3.09 pengies out of 5.

Lessons Learned: Again with the shorthand. I feel so condescended to when film-makers employ certain cultural shorthands to get an idea across, instead of just plotting, then portraying it on the screen:
You just know Frazier and Russell are great parents, because they can apparently find the one 'party/bowl/skate place' in the world that is completely disability-blind, totally accepting and populated with all manner of friends and pals who are also completely accepting, supportive and never-endingly patient. Where is this place?
Next, you know Harrison Ford's Bob is the one man in the whole universe for this job because he's not only a great brain, but impatient, grouchy, absent-minded, and wears cowboy boots jeans and an earring to work and listens to rock and roll in his lab. And, of course, because he has not only played Han Solo, Jack Ryan and the POTUS, but is, well, Harrison Ford.
Finally: Do not dress up an afternoon special as an groundbreaking statement on the importance of financing the development of drugs for orphan illnesses and tell me you are bringing anything new to the party.

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