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Extraordinary Measures

Extraordinary Measures
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Reviewer:Alaina O'Connor, Extraordinary Measures is an exercise in adapting a meaningful story for the big screen, but it fails in delivering the kind of subtle nuances and poignancy that are needed to elevate this from what feels like a @Lifetime/@Hallmark Channel/@ABC Family made-for-TV movie to a thoughtful big-screen film with top-billing stars. The film follows the efforts of John (Brendan Fraser) and Aileen Crowley (Keri Russell) to save their two young children, Megan (Meredith Droeger) and Patrick (Diego Velazquez), who suffer from Pompe disease, a form of muscular dystrophy with no discernible treatment. As the lives of their children hang in the balance, John seeks out Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford), a brilliant biochemist dreamer renowned for his work in the field with a penchant for playing '60s classic rock in the lab. The two strike up a partnership and form a biotech company in hopes of finding a solution, but navigating the corporate jungle proves difficult, and lack of capital -- not to mention John's temper tantrums and Robert's does-not-work-well-with-others attitude -- threatens the likelihood of a miracle cure. As time runs out for the Crowley kids, John and Robert must put aside their differences to reach the greater goal.Ford -- who not only starred in but served as executive producer for this project -- didn't entirely phone in his performance, but he falls short of the caliber of acting we're used to seeing from an Oscar-nominated actor (perhaps not of late, considering Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull); still, he's convincing as the idiosyncratic genius. Brendan Fraser -- who earns top billing -- takes a step back from light-hearted family action movies and delivers a surprisingly effective performance. He deftly switches gears between concerned parent and pragmatic businessman and evokes sympathy for his plight. Likewise, Keri Russell is convincing as the grief-stricken mother forced to put on a brave face for her ailing children, though she's clearly underused and merely serves as sounding board for Fraser's character.There's a definite feel-good quality, and director Tom Vaughan (What Happens in Vegas) does a decent job of establishing the bond between the members of the Crowley family, and later on, the bond between John and Robert. What's most interesting about Measures is the portion where the men start their biotech firm, but when the film is taken outside the realm of medical procedural for too long, it gets bogged down in sentimentality. Measures, as noted in the opening credits, is inspired by a true story and based on the book -The Cure by Geeta Anand, so it's clear that the story is meaningful to those who worked to bring it to the celluloid arena, but writer Robert Nelson Jacobs (The Water Horse) fails to establish the emotional connection needed to resonate with the audience, and in the end, the film comes across as painfully ordinary. ~ Alaina O'Connor, Rovi