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This week:
Extraordinary Measures

Filthy says:
"This Sunday, on CBS, a very special story."

They used to make movies from true stories. Then they made shit "based on a true story." Now, Hollywood's grassfuckers are serving up flicks "inspired by true events." What the fuck does that mean? This sentence was inspired by a true event, that event being that I just wrote some other sentences that I may or may not later proofread. I think what it means is someone read a book or a blurb and thought, "This would make a great story if it were entirely different and way more schmaltzy."

Extraordinary Measures is a thriller starring Steven Seagal as a maverick cop who must go against his chief to bust a ring of drug-dealing cops. Wait, no, it's not. Sorry, Extraordinary Measures is the partially true story of a football coach who fights the establishment to start a black running back in 1950s Alabama. Oh, shit, sorry, it's a Lifetime Channel movie about a mother who goes to the ends of the Earth stop her daughter from being seduced and murdered by a charming serial killer.

Nah, just shitting you. Extraordinary Measures is none of those. It's just that those brilliant and creative motherfuckers in Los Angeles dared to give this movie a title that could fit so many awesome movies. In this case, however, it's applied to a made-for-TV movie about a rich fucker with sick kids who bends the pharmaceutical industry to his will to find a cure before his kids die. Man, those grassfuckers must have a box they stuff all the orphan movie titles into. Extraordinary Measures languished in there beside Strong Medicine, Big Achievement and Important Moment until a movie as generic as this one needed to be adopted.

Brendan Fraser is the rich guy. He's shaped like the Pillsbury Doughboy nowadays, but he's not as good an actor. Seriously, have you ever seen the Doughboy's Othello? He and the Keebler Elf as Iago kick ass. Fraser looks a shitload more tired than Doughboy, too. And weepy. His young kids suffer from a Muscular Dystrophy-like illness that confine them to wheelchairs with breathing tubes jammed into their necks. They'll be croaking soon unless a cure is found.

In his quest for a cure, Fraser comes across a well-revered but hammily crotchety medical researcher played by Harrison Ford. Ford is supposed to be pegged as a grumpy iconoclast because he listens to oldies. Holy shit, I had no idea oldies listeners were anything more than sorry losers stuck in the past because their present sucked so hard. I need to re-think KOOL 105 and its Monkees Brunch every Sunday. In one of Extraordinary Measures' many scenes of inelegant and workmanlike exposition, Fraser reviews notes about his children's disease (to teach us about it) that include "Does not return calls - try after hours," in regards to Ford. Fraser does and Ford ignores him again.

Increasingly desperate, Fraser flies to Nebraska to hound Ford into magically concocting an elixir for his children. Ford says, "Fuck you unless you give me a shitload of money." Fraser establishes a "foundation" to raise money for Ford. I never got the sense Fraser gave a rat's ass about other kids with the same disease. Rather, he raises money from other parents at their wits' ends to help himself. That's a big fucking problem with this movie: it never makes the problem seem any bigger than Fraser and his own kids. I spent a lot of time bored in the theater thinking, "What makes this asshole think he's so special? Why is it more important to rush a cure for his kids than to simply have one to help all similar kids?" It's not a case of a man empathizing with other struggling parents and wanting to help them. Fraser just wants to help himself.

The movie then got a little weird. Rather than find a cure, Ford talks Fraser into starting a biotech company and develop the cure Ford has only in theory. Fraser pays lip service to the face he has to give up his healthy insurance and not spend time with his sick kids. It's only lip service, though. In fact, the movie glosses over Fraser having to do any of the hard things a parent must do to raise sick kids., Extraordinary Measures makes it mostly look like a lot of fun family outings and a van with wheelchair access. There is no bathing immobile kids, cleaning up their shit, feeding them, getting them dressed, changing their IVs. That stuff, while real, is too messy for this piece of fluff. And I know that stuff is hard because Mrs. Filthy says so every time we role-play and I pretend to be Fetal-Alcohol-Syndrome Baby.

Fraser and Ford quickly sell out to a giant pharmaceutical and make a shitload of money. So, Fraser buys himself a big-ass, fancy house on the hill. This was an incredibly weird thing to do: to go out and buy something conspicuous when the movie should be focusing on, well, the story. I can think of a few more sympathetic uses for the money. First, since Fraser's now a high-risk entrepreneur, maybe use the money to make sure his kids get their half-million dollars worth of medical support a year. Or, God forbid, give it to the foundation he created earlier in the movie. But no, the movie wants us to care about Fraser while apparently not even realizing what an asshole he seems like.

The movie spends a great deal of time showing the inner working of a pharmaceutical company and how Ford and Fraser become cogs in a giant, impersonal machine. This is, at least, a little different from the regular made-for-TV movie. It's also pretty fucking implausible. Ford and Fraser have regularly scheduled shouting matches on their inevitable way to understanding each other. Ford's grumpiness is as hokey as a Billy Big Mouth Bass. Fraser follows up every argument with a scene where he has puffy eyes and looks about to cry. That culminates with a scene of him crying in his office that's so fucking cheesy--and poorly acted--I laughed out loud in the theater. I wasn't alone.

The movie continues its argument-cry-sick kids going to park cycle over and over until we get to the part where Fraser's kids get a cure. It doesn't really change in emotional tone, mostly because the characters never grow or change. They just keep doing the same shit while the plot moves around them. Fraser also jeopardizes al of the research and the chance to help other kids by trying to sneak his own kids into a research study. Yet, we're still supposed to care about him?

Fraser celebrates curing his kids buying himself a classic convertible and then driving his disabled daughter around in the front seat. I'm pretty sure that's an unsafe way to transport a kid who can't walk. But, hey, I'm not a Hollywood asshole more concerned with how pretty shit looks then whether it makes sense.

Poor Harrison Ford just sucks in this movie. He's old for sure, but he is not believable as an old Ford truck driving medical researcher who likes bass fishing and yelling at people. He's grumpy and growly, but it's about as believable as I am when I tell my wife I love her vegetarian chili. While his beat-up old truck is supposed to represent his personality, he abandons it in the end for an enormous, unbelievably fancy new truck. It's like the makers of this movie think really nice, expensive shit trumps any sort of ethics or integrity.

Extraordinary Measures is a stupid movie, too wealth-obsessed to tell the story it pretends to tell. It is, at heart, a lame-ass made-for-TV movie that doesn't even have the balls to stick to its feel-good plot. No, it also needs to be a movie about wealth and how great it is to buy expensive shit. I guess it's made for that niche group that flips between Lifetime and Home and Garden TV, but nobody else. Two Fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Scott Mantz of Access Hollywood

Edge of Darkness is "Gripping, intense and very entertaining! Mel Gibson returns with a vengeance!"

Extraordinary Measures contains "Harrison Ford's finest performance in years!"

Filthy's Reading
Philip Roth - Portnoy's Complaint

Listening to
Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle


Sweet and Lowdown