It used to be that movies like Extraordinary Measures would made all the time. And by "movies like Extraordinary Measures", I mean schmaltzy, feel good medical dramas. Of course, they were made for television, and usually starred Meredith Baxter Birney. Their over-dramatic acting and predictable story lines worked well on television, because you could break up the monotony with commercials. That two minute break allowed you to forgive some of the predictability. Not so much in a theater, where there is no break to this supposedly uplifting, but rather deflating movie.
In theory, this is a great story. Man risks everything to save his children from a deadly medical condition with the help of an unappreciated scientist. But that's the problem: it's a great story. And great stories don't always make great movies. That's because movies need tension and drama to make them compelling. It seems to me the true story that this film is based on may have had some drama, but not the kind that makes for a great moviegoing experience. Like most movies that are based on true stories, this one has to manufacture its drama, and that drama isn't really that interesting. The Blind Side at least had football. This movie has biotech politics and "race against time" medicine. Interesting news report on NPR? Yes. Exciting movie? No.
It's also interesting to see this kind of film with this kind of cast. As a glorified Lifetime Network movie, you expect some b-level talent on the screen, but here you get Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford. Watching them push the limits of melodrama is interesting, if only because you wouldn't expect that from these two normally understated actors. In the end, that's the point of Extraordinary Measures. The whole film is an interesting idea that should have stayed on the drawing board.