PLOT: Inspired by true events ... John (Fraser) and Aileen Crowley (Russell) enlist the help of a gruff researcher, Dr. Stonehill (Ford), to help cure their two children's rare genetic disorder known as Pompe.
WHO'S IT FOR? You want to shed a few tears? This movie is for you. It also gives you a chance to see how disease is attacked in America.
EXPECTATIONS: First time I saw the preview, I actually thought this was a made-for-TV movie. Whatever film quality CBS uses on its TV shows, it's the exact same here. The soft lighting, the light colors, it's all identical. And don't tell me you can't immediately tell the different between ABC, NBC and CBS simply based on the colors ... OK, maybe I do watch a lot of TV.
Brendan Fraser as John Crowley: Surprising. I did not see this one coming. Fraser is the emotional strength of this film. Best acting of 2010 (Yup, those statements will last all the way until late January probably). Fraser put on weight, and I assume it's for this role. Now, he doesn't look like an Indiana Jones wanna-be. That very effective weight gain gives him the look of a dad who is consumed by his children. It's amazing to see Fraser act well with children, mainly because he was terrible in Journey to the Center of the Earth. Score: 8
Harrison Ford as Dr. Robert Stonehill: Surprising. I did not see this one coming. Ford is the weakest part of this film. Dr. Stonehill is mad as hell as he's not going to take it anymore. Why is he mad? Because. Why does he yell? Because. He's an abrasive dick who doesn't know how to talk to people. It's like he has decided he's the best in the room, and never needs to explain to everyone why. "Don't interrupt" is the only line he truly pulls off effectively. I never felt his yelling improved the film in any way. Perhaps he was so surly because Fraser kept telling him The Mummy is better than Indiana Jones. Score: 4
Keri Russell as Aileen Crowley: Russell doesn't have as big a role as Fraser and Ford, which is too bad. I would have loved scenes where she was emotionally and physically beaten down from taking care of her children. When she was present, she does a nice job, I just wanted more. Score: 7
Meredith Droeger as Megan Crowley: I haven't researched it yet, but I assume Droeger doesn't have Pompe. The important thing is that I did question this for a little bit. This unknown (to me) child actor definitely pulls on the heart and makes you constantly care. Plus, she's faster than Han Solo, which should count for something. Score: 8
TALKING: We already talked about Ford's affective line, which is "Don't interrupt." John and Dr. Stonehill fight. Or John watches Dr. Stonehill fight with others. That's not effective, fun or emotionally powerful. Dr. Kent Webber (Jared Harris of "Mad Men") pulls off the arguing much more effective. When John and Dr. Webber explain to each other how much they've always disliked each other you believe it and understand where it's coming from. The same can't be said with Dr. Stonehill. Score: 5
SIGHTS: Portland! Sure, OHSU has been renamed to Portland Rose Hospital, but the city looks great. I've been telling everyone for the last two years that OHSU is the best looking hospital I have ever seen, and now you can enjoy it as well without having to come visit me. Yes, this score is higher than usual simply because I live in this city. Deal with it. Score: 8
SOUNDS: Dr. Stonehill cranks the oldies but goodies out when he is doing his research. We get "The Weight," some Grateful Dead and others. They don't really feel inspired, but they're good enough songs. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: I got choked up a couple of times, but perhaps the most effective was Courtney B. Vance as Marcus Temple. A man who is struggling with two Pompe kids of his own.
ENDING: I don't want to talk about it. Sorry, you're not getting any clues as to who is living. You obviously know that great strides have been made in the battle against Pompe, plus there's a nice twist with John's job. That's all I am saying.
QUESTIONS: Why so mean Dr. Stonehill? And now are you all smiles?
REWATCHABILITY: I could easily sit through this film again. Plus, since it's done by CBS Films (their first) I would have to assume it will get some heavy replay on CBS.
This is a made for TV movie. This is also the best made for TV movie I have seen in recent memory. I probably wouldn't have given it the time of day if Extraordinary Measures would have premiered on Lifetime or was the Hallmark Movie of the Week. So, I'm glad it was in the theater. I had certain expectations heading in. One was that it would be good to see Ford doing something slightly different. That ended up being wrong, and I'm as shocked as you that I liked Fraser's performance as much as I did. The middle of the film does drag a little with us getting stuck watching Dr. Stonehill complain and throw little tantrums. Look, your film is "inspired by true events," you're allowed make Stonehill more interesting. The other expectation was, I was expecting to cry and that was correct. On three different occasions it got a little misty for me. Heck, one even happened during the opening credits. I just wish we could have seen a little more family dynamic, and the heart tugging could have been increased to one every 20 minutes. But as far as TV movies go, this one is a winner. It's just weird we're seeing it on the big screen.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10