Who's In It: Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell, Jared Harris, Alan Ruck, Dee Wallace
The Basics: Big Pharma corporate hotshot Brendan Fraser and his wife Keri Russell have two kids with a rare genetic disorder that degenerates their muscles and organs, causing death before age 10. When Fraser finds an eccentric scientist (Ford) who may know the secret to a treatment, he raises funds for a foundation and then funnels it into a biomedical business to save his children's lives. And because Harrison Ford as the scientist is so '60s-rebel-in-vintage-pickup-truck, you know the special medicine is getting closer to reality every time the soundtrack burps up a song by The Band or Grateful Dead.
What's The Deal: Movies like this love to trade on their good intentions and make it seem like it's your problem when you feel trapped in your theater seat, fidgeting and pretending not to be checking your email, praying for the end credits to roll. Obviously, you're a "heartless machine" (Fraser throws that one at one of the film's bottom-line money-men) who can't wait to watch adorable children die. But it's really the movie's fault for not giving you anything to look at but people in lab coats arguing with guys in suits about protocols and clinical trials and health care industry shoptalk. I'm sure in reality this whole thing was pretty dramatic and felt as life-and-death important as it clearly was, but at least twice I caught myself thinking, "Avatar is playing right next door..."
Comes With Built-In Drinking Game: As executive producer, you can't blame Harrison Ford for looking at the dailies and thinking, "We gotta juice this thing up." So nearly every 10 minutes (at least it seemed that frequent) there are scenes where he confronts people and yells at them about whatever happens to be going on. He can go from calm research to have-a-stroke-why-don't-you raging in about three seconds. It will make you crazy drunk if you try it, so don't do it at an actual theater.
Weirdest Climactic Breakthrough Scene Of 2010: Spoiler alert here, but it's kind of too good not to spill, so if you don't want to know then just skip this bit. Okay? Here it is: when the special medicine starts to work and break down the accumulated bad enzymes in the kids muscles (I'm probably explaining this all wrong, but who cares), it causes a "sugar high" in the children and they wake up from a sound sleep giggling their heads off like Chucky dolls about to go on a murder rampage. Not having read the nonfiction book this movie's based on, I don't know if this really happened or not. I hope it did. But it plays like a major freakout on screen.
Alternative Medicine: It'll take longer to read The Cure, by Geeta Anand, but you'll at least get the facts instead of the "inspired by a true story" version. And if you really need a movie about heroic measures taken to save a child's life, you can just get a copy of Lorenzo's Oil on DVD. It's way more extraordinary than this.