Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Extraordinary Measures

A few weeks ago, I had free passes to see the film Extraordinary Measures, which I would not have paid money to see. This movie received attention in Portland last year because it was filmed here. There were reports of Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford sightings around town during the time the film crew was making a mess of streets. I'm not a fan of Brendan Fraser. Every time I see him in a movie, he will always be Encino Man to me. I just can't get over that image of him. And didn't he play Tarzan or George of the Jungle or something?

For me, Portland was the star of the movie. That's the biggest reason why I wanted to see this movie. I had no clue what it was about, other than a couple scenes were shot at Pioneer Square downtown and at the OHSU hospital on the hill. The producers of the film certainly took advantage of the scenery, as Brendan Fraser's character has an office where he can see Mount Hood in the distance.

Most of the scenes were interior shots, though. Some of the film was set in Lincoln, Nebraska and Seattle, Washington. What is the movie about? Glad you asked. Fraser plays a man with three children...two of whom have a rare disease called POMPE, which is a respiratory illness in which the body cannot break down sugar or something like that. I was actually bored during the scenes that go into detail about this disease. The children are confined to wheelchairs and have a tube attached to the front of their throats. The life expectancy is nine years, so that increases the drama, as his daughter just had an eighth birthday.

Harrison Ford plays an eccentric scientist working at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln who is working on finding a cure or treatment for the disease. His only problem is finding funding, as his ideas are outside the norm and fall under "theory." Fraser attempts to get ahold of the scientist, first by phone then in person. Ford's abrasive personality is funny. Its understandable that a person who spends all his time on theory and trying to find a solution would be anti-social and unaware of how he comes across to other people.

To convince the scientist to test his theories on real patients, Fraser misleads Ford into thinking that he had founded a non-profit organization devoted to curing the disease with a promise of half a million dollars. Fundraising amounted to $90,000, but the scientist did his own Google-sleuthing and learned about Fraser's true motives. Instead of rejecting the money, he proposes that they form their own bio-tech company. Much of the movie is about starting up a bio-tech company in the race to bring a formula to test trials and hoping for a larger bio-tech firm to buy them out at millions.

There were equal parts boring and interesting. Some of the film interested me, other parts were slow and dull. The audience laughed when the OHSU hospital was referred to as Portland Rose Hospital (with its own logo). One thing that annoyed me, though, was that the family was already living in a pretty nice house in a Portland neighbourhood. After he gets a check for the buy out of his bio-tech company, he moves his family into a more lavish house with an awesome view. There is such a thing as "too much house." The wife (played by the lady from Felicity) had expressed concern when he first quit his job to run a start-up company because their children's medical care was expensive. A movie like this only promotes the idea of upgrading when one gets more money. I actually thought the first house was too big for my tastes (I'd prefer a cozy bungalow house myself).

This movie opens this Friday but I don't think it will do well. The rare medical disease does raise one's awareness about it but most people probably aren't going to be interested in it. The movie is based on a true story and shows the ingenuity of a man desperate to save his children from dying an early death. It is admirable, not to mention amazing that he was able to get a movie based on his family's life made by Hollywood. But once again, Portland is going to have to wait for the Great Portland Movie (Seattle was lucky to have three good movies: Sleepless in Seattle, Singles, and 10 Things I Hate About You). The only Portland movie that I really like is Feast of Love, but I can't recommend it to most people because of some scenes that these people would find embarrassing to watch. As far as Extraordinary Measures go...its definitely a wait for DVD release kind of movie, where a remote control will help you skip over the boring sections.

1 comment:

Sean Langdon said...

Another great Seattle movie (to me at least) is "Love Happens" from last year. It shows lots of Seattle sights which was so awesome to see in a movie.