That CBS Films has released Tom Vaughan’s Extraordinary Measures should tell you everything you need to know. Despite somewhat legitimate Hollywood talent on screen, the movie is nothing more than a tarted-up Movie of the Week. You know the type: an incurable, imminently fatal disease pops up, but thankfully, and inspirationally, the cast manages to find a cure and warm the hearts of the audience in between ShamWow commercials. It’s more of the same in the case of Extraordinary Measures.
Brendan Fraser plays John Crowley, a doting father with not one, but two kids (Meredith Droeger and Diego Vasquez) with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy that doesn’t give either much time to live. With time running out, John is forced to go after maverick scientist (because he wears blue jeans and listens to classic rock with the volume turned up high) Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford), who has a theoretical—yet unproven—cure for John’s kids. Heartstrings are tugged, tear ducts are assaulted and no cliché goes unabused.
The movie goes nowhere you don’t expect. Of course these kids aren’t going to die, and of course a miracle cure is going to be found while all the moneygrubbing suits and weaselly doctors are shown up. And at this stage of his career, of course Harrison Ford isn’t going to pass up the chance to shout every line possible. His “I already work around the clock!” line became a small-scale Internet sensation before the movie even came out, and the rest of the film is chock full of these same types of curmudgeonly outbursts. When Al Pacino does this kind of thing, it’s entertaining; when Ford tries to get all showy, it’s more like he’s hungover and there are these darned kids on his lawn. It’s Serious Acting 101, and since Ford’s never had the personality or charisma to pull this kind of thing off, the movie certainly isn’t better for it.
Fraser doesn’t weather the thin material any better, trying to blubber his way through being a heartbroken dad. He simply doesn’t have the gravitas to pull off the role. But it’s his and Ford’s attachment to the project that have kept the movie from being stuck behind re-runs of Home Improvement, and it shows. That’s a pity, too, since in theaters there’s pretty much zero redeeming qualities when it comes to Extraordinary Measures‘s formulaic, hoary melodrama; at least if it were on TV, you could change the channel—or look forward to the next ShamWow advertisement. Rated PG for thematic material, language and a mild suggestive moment.