Too Much Ordinary
Extraordinary Measures is based on the true story of John Crowley, a businessman whose two younger children are both afflicted with Pompe disease, which carries with it a life expectancy of no more than nine years. As the movie opens, Megan Crowley is celebrating her eighth birthday. Determined to save his children, Mr. Crowley contacts a research scientist in Nebraska who is considered the top mind on the subject and together they form a company dedicated to finding a cure. Their goal is to be in clinical trials within a year, and John wants his kids to be the test subjects.
John Crowley’s quest to save his children makes for a terrific story and one that was destined to be turned into a movie, but unfortunately it lacks the excitement of a big screen drama. This is the first film released by CBS Films, and watching it I couldn’t help but fight the idea that it would have made for a much better television movie, with commercials breaking up some of the business monotony. Much of the film focuses on the business ends of Crowley’s attempts and, I hate to say it, but, business is boring.
At one point in the film, a character observes that “objectivity is key.” That may be true in the business world, but in the world of the silver screen, subjectivity is more entertaining. That’s why the film is at its best when it returns focus to the Crowley family and reminds us why achieving the goal is so important. Crowley himself knew that—at least as it is presented in the film—and that is why he brought his kids into the office for a breakfast meeting. Some emotion is needed. As is some excitement, which is why a scene near the end in which Crowley decides to take things into his own hands helps to liven up the movie a bit.
The movie also feels more like a television production due to its relatively uninspired production values and some shoddy camerawork. For instance, there is one moment when the camera slowly pushes in on Keri Russell. This should have been a very emotional moment, and could have been, if it weren’t for some really distracting camera shakes. A handheld camera works well for action scenes, but for dramatic slow push-ins, the camera should be on a tripod.
The actors were very well-suited for their roles. As John and Aileen Crowley, Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell are very relatable and it is easy to sympathize with their struggles. Meanwhile, Harrison Ford, who also executive produced, takes something less than top-billing for the first time since 1983’s Return of the Jedi. It’s a good sign for an actor I’ve long believed could easily and successfully transition into a great character actor in his later years. He’s good here as the gruff, not-going-to-let-anyone-tell-me-how-to-do-my-work scientist.
I liked aspects of Extraordinary Measures and I do believe it is a story worth telling, but unfortunately director Tom Vaughan takes the business route on this one instead of aiming straight for the audience’s heartstrings. Maybe this movie will eventually find its rightful place on television.
Extraordinary Measures is rated PG for “thematic material, language and a mild suggestive moment.” The Crowley’s get caught in the act once and Ford’s gruff scientist uses some mild language, but there is little more to worry about this decidedly PG film.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Extraordinary Measures.