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Finding Entertainment Appropriate for Kids: ‘Extraordinary Measures’ & ‘Tooth Fairy’

By Germain Lussier on January 22nd, 2010

extraordinarymeasures-LG“Finding Entertainment Appropriate for Kids,” or FEAK, runs every Friday and discusses places – mainly the movie theaters – where parents can look to find things for their kids to watch over the weekend.

Hollywood is back into its normal flow this week with three new wide releases, including two that are family friendly, and we’ve seen both. The big one, of course, is “Tooth Fairy” starring Dwayne Johnson. We’ve covered that film in depth in this review and while it’s very appropriate for kids, with a strong message, it is an almost lifeless movie. Click that link to read the review and check back tomorrow to hear from the filmmakers themselves.

The other family film released this week is “Extraordinary Measures” starring Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford. The film is based on a true story of a father (Fraser) who has three kids, two of which have Pompe disease. It’s a rare affliction that basically means the kids will die by the age of 9 and confines them to a wheel chair. Refusing to accept that fate, he enlists the help of an eccentric doctor (Ford) who is working on a possible cure. The two then go on a medical journey together trying to raise the money to create this miracle drug.

Obviously, by that description, “Extraordinary Measures” shows all its cards. It’s pretty obvious you are dealing with one of these heart warming true stories. And with the PG rating, it seems like a family home run. Well, it’s not. First of all, the film extends that PG rating to the limit. They use the “S” word a lot, there is some drinking, and even some death.

Also, the film really isn’t catered to a younger audience. It is chock full of medical and business jargon as well as detailed descriptions of both Pompe and the potential cure that will potentially leave adults scratching their heads. You don’t need to understand all of it to get the gist, but, it makes the film pretty darn boring and very tedious for anyone with a short patience.

Basically, “Extraordinary Measures” is a serviceable movie. The performances range from okay (Ford) to pretty bad at times (Fraser) and while this true story is certainly one worth telling and getting wrapped up in, it honestly doesn’t have enough Hollywood drama – even in this Hollywood retelling – to make for a totally satisfying experience. Most of the tension is from the ticking clock of the kids’ lifespans and the doctor’s unwillingness to compromise. Other than that, really, things go fairly smoothly.

So, proceed with caution, especially with kids who can’t sit still and pay attention for longer than an hour.

Also still in theaters is the far more satisfying, albeit it not perfect, family action film “The Spy Next Door” and then, the whole list of fare still lingering around – like “Avatar” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.” And we’d recommend almost all of those over the two releases this week.

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