Who’s In It: Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell, Meredith Droeger, Jared Harris, Patrick Bauchau, Alan Ruck, Dee Wallace, Courtney B. Vance
The Basics: Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell have a 6-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter who have the same rare genetic disease, which keeps them wheelchair-bound and on respirators. (Cue sad face.) Good thing Fraser is a mega-businessman who earns enough on a single income salary to afford $40,000 A MONTH in health insurance for his family! As recent films like Up in the Air have taught us, everyone – even the rich white folk who live in huge mansions in Portland – deserves their chance to suffer on celluloid. And so, with time running out before his two ailing kids succumb to evil Pompe disease, Fraser teams up with grumpy Dr. Indiana Jones (or, as he’s known in Nebraska, Dr. Robert Stonehill) to form a ragtag young biotech firm, fund research, and find a cure. Scenes of gruff men shouting at each other and Brendan Fraser weeping in power suits ensue.
What’s The Deal: You can’t really make fun of a movie based on true events, especially when said events concern a real disease that kills children and one determined father’s crusade to combat it at all costs. Making fun of such a movie would make you a horrible, unfeeling jerk. (Pause.) So suffice to say that this medical weepie is exactly as melodramatic as you think it is, a Lifetime Channel telefilm translated to the big screen only with a bigger budget, decent production values, A-list stars (if you can call Brendan Fraser that) given limited notes to play, and just as much snoozeworthy dead air filling the spaces in between actual things happening. (At least on cable, you have commercials with catchy phrases like "Head-On, apply directly to the forehead” and that Shake Weight contraption to spice things up.)
The Best Parts: Whenever Harrison Ford acts curmudgeonly (which is most of his screen time) or, better yet, when he gets in Brendan Fraser’s face and other men’s faces and yells about how he’s already working hard and corporate bureaucracy sucks and various other antisocial things. He’s such a rebel, he pulls all-nighters figuring out science-nerd equations while cranking classic rock, and when people ask him to turn down the volume, he turns it up. Check out the trailer and you’ll see: Ford’s “I ALREADY WORK AROUND THE CLOCK!” is the new “Get off my plane!”
When Extraordinary Measures Actually Feels Kind Of, Almost, Extraordinary: In its quieter moments, when subtle performances by the likes of Courtney B. Vance (as the parent of another young Pompe patient) and young actress Meredith Droeger (as Fraser and Russell’s Pompe-suffering daughter, chipper and winning in the face of illness) remind you that this is a very real affliction that’s often lethal when it’s not treated, and exorbitantly costly when it is.
Attention, Members Of The Alan Ruck Fan Club: The good news: Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is totally in Extraordinary Measures! The bad news: He gets all of two scenes before completely disappearing from the story. Who’s got it worse: Dee Wallace, who delivers one line as a hot barmaid GILF, then wanders out of the frame in search of a much more interesting movie.