Wed, Jan 20, 2010 (5:30 p.m.)
Call me heartless, but any time a movie wheels out an adorable terminally ill kid with a spunky attitude, I instinctively want to bolt for the exit. Extraordinary Measures is practically stuffed with adorable terminally ill kids, as it deals with the true (and admirable, inspiring, etc.) story of the quest to discover a treatment for Pompe disease, a genetic condition that often kills children before they reach 10 years old. Brendan Fraser plays John Crowley, a pharmaceutical executive obsessed with finding a cure for Pompe, which afflicts two of his kids. Fraser lends about as much depth to Crowley as he does to the square-jawed heroes of popcorn movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Measures plods along with rote sincerity until reaching its foregone conclusion (huzzah, a medical breakthrough!).
Theoretically stirring things up a bit is Harrison Ford as the (fictional) curmudgeonly university professor whose research into Pompe drives important developments in discovering the treatment. Ford, who hasn’t given an interesting performance in at least a decade, sets his irascible-meter way too high here, and instead of lovably eccentric, his researcher comes off as an arrogant asshole derailing a process that could help a lot of sick kids.
That’s the only wrinkle in this otherwise dull, TV-movie-level story, and instead of making things more exciting, it’s just contrived. A lot of people (most of whom aren’t represented in this movie) worked very hard to do an incredible thing. Can’t we just let them be?