“Extraordinary Measures” a feel-good weepie

Two men team up when a deadly disease threatens their children

| Feb 1, 2010

Untitled Crowley Project

Harrison Ford and Brandon Fraser in Extraordinary Measures
Extraordinary Measures starts off by stating that it is “Inspired by true events,” and you wonder how that knowledge is supposed to make us feel about the movie.

Is that simply a label of truth in advertising, or have we become so bombarded by so-called “reality television” shows that filmmakers believe that audiences will be more respectful than if the source material were just pure fiction?

hotshots-logoAt any rate, Brandon Fraser plays John Crowley, who really does exist, and this movie is based on the story of him, his family, and their struggles to achieve something remarkable, whereas Harrison Ford gets second billing in the credits, and his character, Dr. Robert Stonehill, is a composite of the doctors who helped Crowley achieve what he did.

You may even be surprised at how Ford pulls out his acting chops and shows some true emotions.

The movie begins with the birthday party of eight-year-old Megan Crowley, the daughter of John and his wife, Aileen, played by Keri Russell. Megan is confined to a wheelchair, because she has Pompe disease, a form of muscular dystrophy, which tends to be fatal in children by the time they are nine or ten years old. Megan gets a cold the next day, but has to go to the hospital, where the doctor tells her parents that she is not responding well.

So, Crowley does some research, and he learns about a scientist in Lincoln, Nebraska, who is working on a cure for Pompe disease. Dr. Stonehill has unusual work habits, and Crowley eventually travels to Nebraska to meet with Stonehill personally.

When Crowley finally manages to find him and tell him about his daughter, Dr. Stonehill says gruffly, “I do research. I don’t see patients.” Crowley also has a six-year-old son who suffers from the disease, too, and when Stonehill says that half of his grants don’t even get approved, Crowley makes the rash promise that he will raise the necessary $500,000 for Stonehill to complete his laboratory work.

Then the rest of the movie is about how the two men set up their own biotech company and their race against time to save Crowley’s children, overcome their difficulties working with each other, and raise the money to become successful.

Extraordinary Measures is a feel-good weepie, but it is a good feel-good weepie.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”