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Extraordinary Measures: movie review

Harrison Ford plays a curmudgeonly scientist in ‘Extraordinary Measures,’ an optimistic race-for-a-cure movie that largely sidesteps controversial Big Pharma issues.

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If “The Blind Side” is any indication, inspirational movies “inspired by real events” are potential bonanzas in these parlous times. I’m sure the people behind “Extraordinary Measures,” which includes its star and coproducer Harrison Ford, are hoping lightning will strike twice. But just being “real” and “inspirational” is no guarantee of a good movie. I wasn’t nuts about “The Blind Side” – it skimmed over just about every area of potential controversy – and “Extraordinary Measures” doesn’t cut it for me either.

It’s based on a book called “The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million and Bucked the Medical Establishment in a Quest to Save His Children,” and that says it all. Sort of. In fact, the movie is a kind of odd-couple love fest. John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) is the rising corporate-star father who seeks out curmudgeonly Dr. Robert Stonehill (Ford), who is doing cutting-edge research into the degenerative Pompe disease, which is killing two of Crowley’s kids. Director Tom Vaughan dotes shamelessly on little Megan (Meredith Droeger) in particular. Crowley’s wife, Aileen (Keri Russell), is mostly a pretty foil for her husband, who will stop at nothing to find a cure, or at least slow down the disease. Big Pharma gets a surprisingly free pass in this film, which will come as a surprise to all those sufferers struggling to get orphan drugs developed.

Brendan Fraser is enjoyable but Ford, still in his late Indiana Jones phase, grimaces and growls a lot. There’s something off-putting about this film’s optimism: After all, how many people can afford to do what Crowley did? Grade: C+ (Rated PG for thematic material, language, and a mild suggestive moment.)

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