Extraordinary Measures

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Extraordinary Measures Movie Poster Image
Mediocre medical drama is too heavy for young viewers.
  • PG
  • 2010
  • 109 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The Crowleys and other families dealing with Pompe disease all overcome unbelievable odds to ensure that their children live as long as possible. Their unflappable resolve is inspiring and touching, as is the sweet optimism portrayed by the sick kids.

Positive Role Models & Representations

John and Aileen selflessly risk their financial stability to bet on Dr. Stonehill's research, fundraise, and do whatever it takes to save their kids and other kids like them. Although Dr. Stonehill isn't necessarily a positive role model (he's cranky, mean, and can't get along with his colleagues), he's also a hardworking genius who's determined to find the enzyme solution to help children with Pompe.


Nothing violent, per se, but there are potentially disturbing images of very sick hospitalized children, as well as discussion of a child who has died from Pompe disease. A guard holds a gun in one scene.


John and Aileen kiss passionately a couple of times and in one scene make out on a couch half-dressed after she makes a seductive suggestion about helping him take off his clothes.


Surprisingly strong language for a PG-rated film: "a--hole," "s--t," "bulls--t," and exclamations such as "Jesus!" and "Christ!"


Recognizable brands include Ford, Kia, Hewlett Packard, Bose, and several mentions and appearances of SpongeBob SquarePants -- both as a stuffed animal and a TV show.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink socially in a bar and at dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that despite its PG rating, this Harrison Ford medical drama features the kind of mature themes and strong language (including "s--t," "bulls--t," and "a--hole") usually associated with PG-13 movies. The movie focuses on a couple dealing with their children's life-threatening genetic disease; consequently, several scenes depict sick kids who are near death (and their inconsolable parents) -- which might be too heavy for tweens and young teens. The film's overall messages, however, are positive, as viewers see parents doing everything they possibly can to find a way to save their dying children.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjoshua martinez May 30, 2010

14 and up.

extraordinary measures is a drama and emotional movie that deals with heavy themes such as medical problems,children's life-threatening genetic disease,con... Continue reading
Adult Written byKrbbup May 20, 2010

Nice Story, but Intense

This movie was intense for the longest time. My brother and I wanted to see it because of Harrison Ford mostly, however his character was unlike the ones I hav... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byTacoBall March 6, 2011

Should have been rated PG-13

There was a feeling of triumph in this movie as the dying children were able to be cured by the hard work of the desperate father and scientists, but other than... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byJadenp February 9, 2011
I cannot believe this movie is PG... should have been at LEAST PG-13. STRONG language throughout entire movie! uses of sh-- ever couple minutes!

What's the story?

John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) is a successful pharmaceutical marketing executive with a loving wife (Keri Russell), three young children, and a lovely home in Portland, Ore. But all isn't idyllic: The Crowleys' two youngest kids, 8-year-old Megan (Meredith Droeger) and 6-year-old Patrick (Diego Velazquez) have a rare, incurable form of muscular dystrophy called Pompe disease, which has a brutally short life expectancy of nine years. Desperate to find a cure or drug that will help his children, John contacts ill-tempered research scientist Dr. Stonehill (Harrison Ford), who lacks the proper funding to get his Pompe research turned into an FDA-approved drug. John and Stonehill start a biotech company together, fundraise, and ultimately get bought out by an even bigger firm, where they work tirelessly to get a Pompe medicine on the market ... all before it's too late for the Crowley children.

Is it any good?

Think of this so-so drama as a two-part episode of Grey's Anatomy (minus the sex) or an especially well-cast Lifetime movie. There's nothing wrong with sugary-sweet medical dramas based on true stories, but, for the most part, they belong on television, where treacly, feel-good stories about parents who won't quit on their sick children are quite effective. What's usually lacking in those made-for-TV medical dramas is a rude, loner scientist a la Ford's Dr. Stonehill, who treats everyone poorly and prefers to work alone with classic rock blaring so loudly that the other lowly researchers can't concentrate. Ford's curmudgeonly doctor is a composite of several scientists, which makes his off-putting personality all the more incomprehensible; he seems to have given birth to a performance by Tommy Lee Jones and Al Pacino, only it just doesn't work.

Fraser and Russell are appropriately optimistic and determined as the parents of Pompe-stricken children, and Droeger is adorable as a sweet and fierce little fighter. Director Tom Vaughan also perfectly cast the supporting players, like David Clennon (Once and Again and thirtysomething) and Jared Harris (Mad Men and Fringe), who expertly play a venture capitalist and pharmaceutical executive, respectively. But Vaughan forgot to tone down Ford's performance into a relatable character. Yes, this is a touching film, but it's predictable and, in the case of Ford's character, unbearable. Occasional laughs and tears aside, there's nothing memorable about what should be a remarkable story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the kids' illnesses affect the Crowley family. Do the family's reactions and interactions seem realistic? How do movies usually portray characters who are seriously sick?

  • Dr. Stonehill is a genius but not a team player. Do you consider him a positive role model?

  • The movie is based on a true story. How much of it do you think is accurate? Why might filmmakers change some of the facts?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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