24 ago. 2010

My Review: Extraordinary Measures (6/10)

¨Scientists get all sensible & careful when they get old. Young ones like risk, not afraid of new ideas.¨

Director Tom Vaughan takes a much more serious approach in Extraordinary Measures then he did with the 2008 comedy What Happens in Vegas starring Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz. This movie which also stars two A-list actors, Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, is a drama focusing on a father`s effort to raise millions of dollars to help fund the research of a scientist who is trying to find a cure for Pompe disease,  a rare genetic disorder that two of his children have. The film is based on the book written by Geeta Anand, ¨The Cure¨, which is based on the true story of the Crowley family. The screenplay was adapted by Oscar nominated writer Robert Nelson Jacobs (Chocolat). I think that Jacobs did a pretty decent job at enlightening us about the disease and covered the scientific research well enough so that we could understand what was going on without getting bored. Vaughan could have made this a tear-jerker and played with the viewers emotions, but he did a great job with trying to stay true to the material and not turning this into a melodrama like My Sister`s Keeper was. The film works well with strong performances from the entire cast, but I still can`t see why anyone would want to see this movie in the theaters because it felt more like a made for television movie, although I don`t think that is necessarily a bad thing. By the end of the movie I felt enlightened and respected the work of these scientists, but I am also glad I waited to watch this movie at home and didn`t go see it at the movies.

John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) is a successful advertising businessman who lives with his wife Aileen (Keri Russell) and three children Megan (Meredith Droeger), Patrick (Diego Velasquez), and John Jr. (Sam M. Hall) in Portland. Megan and Patrick suffer from a genetic disorder known as the Pompe disease. The kids who suffer from this disease never make it past nine, and after Megan turns eight and almost losses her life to the disease, John decides it is time to take drastic and extraordinary measures. He has spent many years researching about the disease and discovers some interesting theories on enzyme treatment from a scientist located in Nebraska named Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford). After trying to contact him and not receiving any response from the Doctor, John decides to travel to Nebraska and convince him to pursue his research. Stonehill is not really person oriented; he has poor communication skills, and has had difficulty coming up with the funds to further his research. John tells Stonehill that he will help raise the money and after hosting several fund raisers and meeting other parents who have children with the same disease such as Marcus Temple (Courtney B. Vance) they raise about 90 thousand dollars which is a lot less than what they needed, but more than Stonehill expected him to raise. John decides to quit his job and work full time with Stonehill helping him raising the funds they need from capitalist groups. Their relationship isn`t the best one and they have their disagreements, but John will do whatever it takes to find a cure for his children before running out of time.

The hardest decision for John was to quit his job and work full time for Stonehill away from home. The ethical dilemma was either to give up and enjoy as much time he could with his children or try to find a cure which meant he would have to spend a lot of time away from home and the results weren`t guaranteed. John took the risk and decided he had to do what was in his power to try to find a cure for his children. The movie also deals with scientific objectivity and how sometimes emotions and feelings are not necessarily a bad mixture. The movie focuses on these issues and doesn`t rely only on the family melodrama of dealing with the disease, it tries to remain objective but at the same time inform us of the reality of this genetic disorder in children. The movie isn`t a highly entertaining film, but it does work as a serious drama and one you would enjoy seeing in the comfort of your home. Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser are decent in their roles although nothing we haven`t seen from them in the past. Courtney B. Vance and Jared Harris have a couple of strong scenes in the supporting role. The kids are ok as well although they don`t play a major role in this movie as one would expect. The movie is far from being extraordinary, but it still is a decent film which I would recommend only for home viewing.

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