Movies like “Extraordinary Measures” are what happens when other films like “Lorenzo’s Oil” and “Patch Adams” sneak away for a dirty weekend. Starring former hunks Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, this red-haired step child of a movie, born, probably, out of passion, is, however, destined to be ignored in favor of other, more legitimate films in the Ford / Fraser family.
Based on a true story “Extraordinary Measures” centers on John (Fraser) and Aileen (Keri Russell) Crowley, parents of three young children, two of which have a deadly form of muscular dystrophy called Pompe. Desperate to prolong the lives of their afflicted kids they seek out the help of Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford), a researcher with a viable theory about enzyme treatment for the rare genetic disorder. Together the ego-centric scientist and the earnest, yet determined father go into business, first building a private lab in Nebraska, then merging with big pharma, to create a cure for the disease.
We have “The Mummy” and “Indiana Jones” to thank (or not) for “Extraordinary Measures.” Without the success of those two franchises there is no way Ford and Fraser could have gotten this cliché ridden clunker off the ground. It’s also further proof that the world has gone crazy. How strange a place is our culture when someone can raise 30 million dollars to make a movie like this, but the real life Crowleys had trouble raising even seed money to find a cure for their kid’s disease? Seems like skewed priorities.
At its best “Extraordinary Measures” comes off as an overwrought TV movie-of-the-week. At its worst (which is most of the time) it plays like a parody of a “Disease-of-the-Week” television movie.
Ford skates through much of the muck unscathed—although there could be a drinking game involving how many times he unnecessarily mentions going to the bathroom—but Fraser really gets conked on the head by the Cliché-O-Tron.
It’s bad enough he has to say lines like, “I want to find a miracle as much as you do,” and “perform” the standard slumping-to-the-floor-in-uncontrollable-sobs scene, but the height of ridiculousness comes when director Tom Vaughan stages a scene where Fraser tries to get Ford’s attention by shimmying up a wall to bang on a small window even though there is a HUGE glass door located a few feet away.
“Extraordinary Measures” is a movie that was likely made with the best of intentions, but clearly no extraordinary measures were made to make the script coherent or the performances big-screen worthy.