Published Jan 21, 2010Having past production involvement with Cinema Center Films in the '60s and Tri-Star in the early '80s, the CBS Corporation looks to make the third time the charm with CBS Films, a feature film company formed in 2007 that aims to release four to six modestly budgeted movies per year. Only time will tell if their 2010 line-up, which includes a Jennifer Lopez rom-com, a teen thriller with Vanessa Hudgens and Mary-Kate Olsen, and a generic action movie with the Rock, will find success.
Perhaps ironically, Extraordinary Measures, their first film out of the gate, doesn't feel like a theatrical release at all, remaining comfortably in movie-of-the-week territory from beginning to end. It opens with an overbearingly saccharine score, introducing the lives of John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) and his doting wife, Aileen (Keri Russell), along with their overly precocious and unrealistically cutesy, mortally ill children, suffering from Pompe disease. Everyone smiles a lot, looking on the bright side, even in the face of a non-existent cure.
Moving through some mealy exposition, Crowley reaches out to a professor studying the disease in one of the more affected character introductions ever seen on film. We see that Dr. Stonehill (Harrison Ford) isn't your typical doctor, wearing jeans, listening to classic rock and, gasp, drinking a beer. He's a renegade. Everything from here on in details their idiosyncratic relationship and race for a remedy in the face of the deteriorating children.
Because everything is so clumsy and manufactured, it's difficult to build up the emotional investment the film so desperately wants from the audience. If the Crowley family were given some discernable humanity and Dr. Stonehill wasn't such a broad caricature of antisocial behaviour, the film could easily have built the pathos necessary to make it passable fare.
Instead, it settles on forgettable and exceedingly awkward melodrama, with mediocre performances all around. The one thing it does well, however, is detail the absurdity of office politics and conflicting egos in a workplace environment, which is something rarely outlined with such acuity. (Alliance)