Mr. Movie

'Extraordinary Measures' good but not exceptional

Pompe disease is a rare neuromuscular disorder that attacks the muscles.

It has something to do with sugar. So does Extraordinary Measures, a film based on the true story of an extraordinary ordinary man, John Crowley, who gave up a promising business career to find a cure for the awful disease that was killing two of his children.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

On average, kids with Pompe live to be eight.

Crowley and a brilliant researcher team up to find a treatment.

The researcher is a composite character. Brendan Fraser is Crowly and Harrison Ford play the composite researcher. One is an optimist and a financial whiz who refuses to sit on the sidelines and watch his two children die. The other is a loner curmudgeon with the potential cure.

Back to the sugar. Extraordinary Measures isn’t extraordinary. Better suited for TV’s Hallmark channel, Robert Nelson Jacobs’ (“Chocolat”) screen treatment of Geeta Anand’s book is saccharine sweet. While these films normally leave an aftertaste, Extraordinary Meaures doesn’t. Part of the credit goes to the excellent casting.

Fraser (The Mummy), usually more suited to comedy, gives an extraordinary performance that plays nicely off of Ford’s sarcasm. What makes this part work for him is that it is more of an anchor that all the individual plot parts revolve around.

Fraser — who has an exceptionally expressive face — has this under-the-surface tenaciousness about him that gives his performance credibility.

Ford has always been an excellent curmudgeon. He has a surly side and an uncanny ability to get a laugh from a brilliant one-line comeback to any statement. Even when the comment isn’t funny, Ford somehow manages to get you to laugh.

You don’t laugh much here.

His last couple of movies have seen little daylight and have not made it to the Tri-Cities. He has done serious roles before, but none quite like this one. You’ll like what you see.

Make no mistake though. This one will load you up with sugar. The predictable beginning leads to a crisis mode middle and then to the three-hanky ending. What it isn’t is manipulative. If you’re careful and limit the soda intake, you won’t leave the theater with a sugar high.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated PG for mature themes. It opens Friday, Jan. 22 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.