AWFJ Women On Film “Extraordinary Measures” – Susan Granger reviews

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If this reminds you of a TV-disease-of-the-week tearjerker, that’s because it’s the first theatrical release from CBS Films, a division of the broadcast network that seems to be testing whether audiences will pay for cable-caliber melodramas at the box-office.

John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) is a pharmaceutical executive at Bristol-Myers Squibb. He and his wife Aileen (Keri Russell), have three children. Their oldest son (Sam M. Hall) is fine, but their two younger children, eight year-old Megan (Meredith Droeger), and six year-old Patrick (Diego Velazquez), suffer from a rare, genetic form of muscular dystrophy called Pompe’s disease. They live on respirators and in wheelchairs. Medicine offers no treatment and no cure.

Terrified that they may die at any moment, John’s persistent Internet research leads him to an eccentric University of Nebraska professor, Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford), who believes he has isolated an enzyme that has the potential to arrest the painful progress of Pompe’s disease, which generally kills children before they reach the age of 10. In desperation, Crowley impulsively agrees to finance Stonehill’s neuromuscular drug therapy experiments and sets up a nonprofit foundation for that purpose. But time is running out and Crowley needs an influx of investment from venture capitalists. So he proposes selling the firm and Stonehill’s findings to a big biotechnology company in Seattle, a concept that does not sit well with the cantankerous, rock music-loving doctor, even though it will propel the experimental drug to a first trial much faster.

Inspired by real events and adapted from “The Cure,” a 2006 nonfiction book by journalist Geeta Anand, screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs has fashioned Ford’s somewhat one-dimensional character as a composite of several different, real-life scientists. Scottish director Tom Vaughn (“What Happens in Vegas”) never rises above a straightforward, expository TV-style – with little shading or subtlety – while Andrew Dunn’s cinematography can only be described as tedious.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Extraordinary Measures” is a formulaic 5, satisfying only in its revelations about how medical research is conducted and financed.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.