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'Extraordinary Measures' to find a cure

Harrison Ford plays a reluctant medical researcher and

Harrison Ford plays a reluctant medical researcher and Brendan Fraser portrays a father of two sick children in "Extraordinary Measures." Credit: AP

By virtue of the roles he's chosen, Harrison Ford has always been more movie star than actor, so it's refreshing to see him cutting loose and getting cranky in "Extraordinary Measures." Still, this fact-based story directed by the unlikely Tom Vaughan ("What Happens in Vegas") is a bit of a slog.

But it really wasn't a choice, since Ford is one of the producers. The story (adapted from Geeta Anand's book "The Cure") focuses on John and Aileen Crowley (Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell), who sought to save their children from a certain early death by finding a cure for the muscular-dystrophy-like Pompe's disease.

Their ally: Dr. Robert Stonehill (Ford), an eccentric University of Nebraska researcher who knows the secret, but needs the money. So he and John Crowley set out to joust with the medical/corporate establishment and save, among others, Crowley's kids.

It's hard to come down too hard on a film about parents saving their children, but "Extraordinary Measures" is drivel - the sappy music is relentless, the camera work is constipated, the acting is far too deliberate and obvious for any of the characters to be plausible as real people. Even so, some subordinate character has to come on the scene now and then to offload a shipment of details to keep the audience on track.

For all its flashcard science and keep-the-faith ethos, "Extraordinary Measures" is a good example of cinematic evolution: To keep people in theaters, part of the movie industry seems to think it should deliver dramas that are far less challenging than what people can get at home on their TVs. Hope it works out.

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