Loosely based on a true story, the plot of Extraordinary Measures has enough built-in emotion to leave viewers in tears. The Brendan Fraser-Harrison Ford drama starts Fraser as a father of two terminally ill children and Ford as the tireless researcher working to find a cure. You can't help but be moved.
Or can you? Many film critics have panned the movie, saying it tries too hard to elicit the emotion most feel is inherent to the story. With a few notable exceptions, Extraordinary Measures has received negative reviews for trying too hard to milk the tragedy.
- It's Moving Entertainment Weekly's Kate Ward admits at the outset: "Extraordinary Measures is hardly an extraordinary movie." That being said, she argues, "I dare you not to feel something at its conclusion," and adds, "Fraser works so hard playing a devoted dad, it's damn hard not to root for him."
- No, It Only Tries To Be "Predictably earnest," gripes The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday. "Too often "Extraordinary Measures" gets bogged down in meetings, business plans and PowerPoint presentations. And the director, Tom Vaughan, has a tendency to underline, italicize and boldface the emotion when no such emphasis is needed. After a scene at Crowley's daughter's eighth birthday party, for example, Crowley learns that her life expectancy is nine years; Vaughan then helpfully offers a close-up of her birthday cake candle shaped like the number 8."
- Agreed "The good intentions are there," says the Newark Star-Ledger's Stephen Whitty. "What’s missing is any artistic surprise or dramatic risk-taking." Whitty compares the film to "a made-for-TV movie" and contends Ford and Fraser are too right for their roles. "They’re all well cast, but in a way that’s part of the problem," he argues. "They’re too well cast, all playing to their standard, polished personas."
- It Fails Either Way Moving or not, Chicago Sun-Times' veteran reviewer Robert Ebert believes the movie doesn't live up to the real-life story that inspired it. "Extraordinary Measures" is an ordinary film with ordinary characters in a story too big for it," he intones. Ebert's lukewarm review concludes with a sanctimonious barb: "Make no mistake. The Crowleys were brave and resourceful, and their proactive measures saved the lives of their children -- and many more with Pompe. This is a remarkable story. I think the film lets them down. It finds the shortest possible route between beginning and end."