Whenever you have a movie that's based on a true story and is about the brave battle against some horrible disease, a large portion of the audience will be inspired and moved, no matter how brutally awful the movie is. And stepping up to critique the art of a bad movie inevitably sounds a little like critiquing the real-life heroes. This is never the case. I wouldn't take back the deeds of the real-life John Crowley for anything. But I imagine that his real-life battles amounted to not much more than a series of phone calls, meetings and conversations, none of which make for a very interesting movie. So for the new Extraordinary Measures, screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs and director Tom Vaughan (What Happens in Vegas) throw in a whole bunch of fictionalized arguments, chases and grand gestures to make it play more like a movie.
The problem with these additions is not that they're there; every "based on a true story" movie uses them. The problem is that they feel false and staged. Nothing here feels as if it might actually have happened. It's all too metered and inevitable. But even as the movie abandons truth, it still can't quite embrace drama. Extraordinary Measures brings up several sub-themes, but never decides on any of them. The main drive is the fight to save the lives of two siblings, eight year-old Megan (Meredith Droeger) and six year-old Patrick Crowley (Diego Velazquez), who have Pompe disease. The movie provides a layman's description of the disease: basically the children are born without a certain enzyme that breaks down sugar. Over time, the sugar builds up and they begin to lose muscle function. Life expectancy is about 9 years.