Extraordinary Measures had the potential to be a full-blown tear-jerker. Luckily, the movie decided to focus on the other aspects of the story based on Geeta Anand’s novel The Cure. A story inspired by true events, such as this one, is always going to tug at the heart-strings. In this particular delivery, the script takes a subtle approach in the pain-and-suffering department. What hooks the audience in, is the complex relationship between the two main characters.
Our story begins with John Crowley (Brendan Fraser), an Ivy league business school alumni, desperately searching for a cure for Pompe disease. Two of his three children have this rare genetic disorder, and have very little time left. His wife (Keri Russell) tirelessly seek out ways to find a cure. John comes across research by Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford). He makes countless attempts to get a hold of Stonehill, but gets nowhere. John then makes an audacious move and travels unannounced to find the good doctor. After a discussion, Stonehill tells John what he needs to make developing a cure possible. The odds are against the Crowley’s in a financial sense. That doesn’t stop John.
Through venture capitalist and selling of Dr. Stonehill’s theory, money starts to come in. However, as resources stop becoming a problem, the relationship between John and Stonehill begins to dissipate. John has made moves behind Stonehill’s back in order to get a cure for his kids. Stonehill objects to the direction that John takes, and in the end, corporate politics and bureaucracy may hinder both of their goals.
Realistically, this story could have showcased the family’s struggle in dealing with this disease. Although, an important part of the story, the strategy and politics that John and Stonehill must deal with is put in the forefront during this 105 minute presentation. Yes, both ccharacters want the same thing, but how they go about it is what draws the audience in. One wouldn’t expect a rough relationship in this setting. Fortunately, Fraser and Harrison have a solid enough chemistry to sell this element of the story. Both characters step into the shoes of an anti-hero. Which also has the audience guessing on how this will play out. Keeping the audience interested is always a good thing!
This screenplay is a classic example on how less is more. Although a years worth of time is covered, the editing team did a nice job of developing the necessary relationships and background information in every scene. Usually, a flick covering this type of material could easily stretch over two hours. By giving an alternate perception, this movie still drives its main point home in an entertaining manner. Sure, it jumps through chunks of time every now and then, but it won’t bother anyone. One will walk out with the intended response the director was hoping for. If you need a genre comparison (some do), this flick would be in the same category as The Blind Side. Didn’t say it was just as good, but it’s right up there.
Nice to see Harrison Ford acting his age for once. His eccentric take on the “Stonehill” character is fun to watch in every scene. Brendan Fraser, who added a belly to sell his character, did an exceptional job as well. He’s known for the popcorn flicks, but the guy has a wide-range of acting talent. The three “Crowley” kids also were very good. Especially Meredith Droeger. She had a decent amount of dialogue and was inspiring to watch. Obviously, one has to grasp the underlying message in spite of all the business-like scenarios depicted.
Overall, Extraordinary Measures is a delightful story played out on screen. You can leave the tissues at home and a few laughs will be had. What carries this flick is the “other side” of the story that many writers and directors would leave out. The at-times gripping performances by Ford and Fraser keep one wondering what will happen next. Extraordinary Measures is the first feel good movie of the year.