HARRISON FORD BRENDEN FRASER KERI RUSSELL
You could lump Extraordinary Measures in the same heart wrenching category as My Sisters Keeper. 2009 brought more of these purposeful tear-jerkers than normal; even The Blind Side could be included with the bunch (although it had far better over all elements). Extraordinary Measures is directed by Tom Vaughn whose only real qualification as a feature film director is What Happens in Vegas. Produced by Harrison Ford this interesting true story fumbles with the screenplay and with “Extraordinary” part of the title I kept waiting for that extraordinary moment and it never came. While Ford is a pretty easy choice for this role Fraser is a disaster.
John Crowley (Fraser) has a lot on his plate; two of his three young children have the rare genetic disorder called Pompe. The incurable disorder limits a child’s life expectancy to around the age of nine, and with his oldest daughter Megan turning eight, John decides to take drastic measures to find a way to save his daughter and son’s life. He reads about Dr. Robert Stonehill (Ford), an eccentric professor who has created an enzyme that might possibly stop the Pompe disorder. John leaves his job, uproots the entire family, raises money for his own Pompe foundation and with Stonehill creates a lab to begin work on testing the hopeful “magic medicine” that will change the Pompe disorder forever.
It’s almost offensive to use the word sappy to try and explain where this film takes a wrong turn, but perhaps in some cases it wasn’t sappy enough. Distributed by CBS films, if this story had been around a decade ago this would have been a Monday night made for TV movie, but they don’t do those on networks anymore. So little time in the screenplay is spent getting to know and understand the relationship between the father, children and his wife that I felt like I never really understood their pain. Both Fraser and Russell fail to make that connection with the audience. Often times when I criticize the casting of an actor I try to supplement who I think could have not only played it better, but in a more interesting and fascinating way and the first person that came to mind was Johnny Depp. Considering Depp as a devoted father and his performance in Finding Neverland I think he would have not only made this film more accessible to a mainstream audience, but have brought real depth to the role and made for one heck of a teaming with Ford.
The movie doesn’t respect the children characters as much either and that bothered me, what screen time they do have is usually when they are well or happy, most of the film gets caught up in the business aspect of making and producing a drug and the politics that follow. With all the problems I think Fraser is the real challenge the film couldn’t overcome, he has no experience to pull off a role this important or dramatic. It’s a shame, because this could have been one of those must see films that warm hearts and stir souls, instead it will bore the tears out of you.
Final Thought – Extraordinary miscasting.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Jennifer Gih