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Extraordinary Measures review

Medical dramas, however heart-warming, need a lot of sugar to help the medicine go down.

There’s no shortage of the sweet stuff in this slickly sentimental true-life story, in which desperate father John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) teams up with irascible academic Dr Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford) in a bio-tech venture, racing against time to create the drug that might save two of his children, suffering with the fatal muscle-wasting disorder Pompe’s Disease.

Bland, by-the-numbers plotting and stereotypical characters give us little else to chew on, while Fraser and Ford’s repetitive ‘odd couple’ bickering gets old fast. Ford’s grouchy microscopemaestro gets to demonstrate his genius and loveable eccentricity by yelling at everyone and playing rock music.

Fraser’s Crowley, meanwhile, signals emotion mostly by blinking and swallowing hard, lacking the gutsiness that got us rooting for true-life heroics in The Pursuit of Happyness or Erin Brockovich.

When it digs into the desperate business compromises Crowley made to fund the research, Measures flickers briefly and promisingly to life, aided by Jared Harris’ chilly turn as a sceptical colleague. But when an agonising conflict of interest erupts between saving the kids and marketing the drug, director Tom Vaughan (Starter For 10, What Happens In Vegas) struggles to keep the tension high. And so it winds up a ‘disease of the week’ TV movie that seems to have wandered into the multiplex by mistake.

Still, we have a contender for 2010’s Most Misleading Movie Title When Read With Star’s Name: ‘Harrison Ford in Extraordinary Measures’ is surely a biff-bang Tom Clancy actioner replete with exploding helicopters…
 

An extraordinary story receives a decidedly ordinary treatment in this worthy weepie, which can’t get either Ford or Fraser to catch fire. Heartstrings get tugged and tear-ducts tickled, but it’s more Lifetime movie than movie of a lifetime.

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