By Kristina N. Lotz
People who live in Los Angeles frequently forget what it feels like for the rest of the world when a movie production comes to town. I, on the other hand, can you tell you first hand. (I can also recommend the film.)
Last Spring, while still living in my hometown of Portland Oregon, I heard the news I’d longed to hear, a major movie was being filmed…here! Not just any movie, either. One with Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser. While Portland has had a few scenes from various movies shot discreetly over the years, never had a movie been based there, and never so openly publicized. Harrison Ford was somewhere in my state! Plus, casting calls had been opened for extras in the area.
Needless to say, when the day came, my mom and I played hooky from work to go and wait, hoping to see a bit of Hollywood up-close and perhaps be a part of it. Nothing would have stopped us from making the drive over to the Oaks Park amusement park.
Mom and I did get into the shoot. Then, after they filmed the scene, we got to watch Brendan Fraser (John Crowley), Keri Russell (Aileen Crowley), Meredith Droeger (Megan Crowley), and Diego Velazquez (Patrick Crowley) shoot a scene.
As we watch actors in films, we cannot help but displace some of the character they are playing onto the real-life person. We believe Ford really could save us from Nazis with nothing but a bullwhip and a pistol, and that Fraser could easily fight off a mummy without breaking a sweat. So, when an actor breaks out of his or her “type cast,” it sometimes ruins our belief in the movie. It also creates in us a fear, that if we are ever lucky enough to meet the actor in person, our vision of him will be jaded.
This was not the case with Brendan Fraser. From many of his films, you get a feeling that he is a friendly, caring, guy who loves kids. Between every take that day, Fraser affirmed this by hugging the kids, joking around with them, and even patting the Oaks Park worker on the back.
and I found myself in a position rare for most Americans: I had watched and participated in the film being shot in my hometown, and now lived in the very city of its Premiere.
I couldn’t resist seeing the next phase of this excellent film’s life.
On the day of the premiere, my husband and I took a spot on Hollywood Boulevard, across the street from Grauman’s Chinese Theater, right where the stars would exit their cars to enter the theater.
At about 6:30, Brendan Fraser stepped out of a large black SUV. I could not see him, but knew it was him by the cheering of the many fans who, like us, had braved the cold and chance of rain to catch a glimpse of the stars. As Fraser walked toward the red carpet tent, he waved and smiled to his fans, who kept calling him. But rather than entering the tent, Fraser actually went to the crosswalk, waited until the signal changed — and crossed the street to come over and say hi. He signed autographs and shook hands with anyone within reach. True to his reputation for being “fan-friendly,” he only turned back when told he had to in order to keep to the night’s schedule.
Harrison Ford arrived in a simple, gold-toned sedan without window tinting. Again, I was pleasantly surprised when, true to the characters he most often plays, Ford swiftly went around the car to open the door for his beau, Calista Flockhart, stopping the driver so he could do it himself. The gesture was genuine and showed Ford’s classy nature. Although he waved to us, Ford did not cross the street, most likely because Flockhart was not dressed to cross a dirty, cold and busy city street.
I got to watch the movie myself the next night.
Extraordinary Measures is CBS’s first film and is based on John and Aileen Crowley’s (Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell) fight to cure their children of Pompe disease with the help of the eccentric Dr. Stonehill (Harrison Ford).
Although dramas can be slow moving, this one keeps the pace up with funny one-liners and moving scenes between Fraser, Russell, Ford and the children.
However, it is the children, particularly Meredith Droeger (Megan Crowley) who steal the movie. For a child to play the role of a girl who is very ill, confined to a wheelchair with a breathing tube attached to her throat, is difficult. For a child to play a role and show the range and depth of emotion that Droeger manages, is simply amazing. Her eyes alone contain so much emotion that you truly believe her character.
Meanwhile, Ford balances young Droeger’s talkative, bubbly personality with his rough exterior and caring interior — a role we are used to seeing him in. True Ford fans will notice his signature moves are still there, including the first time he is on screen, where you do not see his face for several shots, to calling Fraser “kid.” At some points, you half expect him to punch someone, because “that’s what Ford does.”
Fraser does a wonderful job of portraying an emotional father who is at the end of his rope trying to keep his children alive, while the banter between him and Harrison Ford provides some of the comic relief in the film.
While Ford’s and Fraser’s action fans may find this movie hard to watch because of the lack of fist-throwing, it shows that both actors are highly capable of doing more than just action flicks.
My mother and I never made it into the final film. In fact, the scene we shot, a panoramic view of the amusement park, is not in the film at all. However, the scene we watched being filmed — where Fraser and Russell are helping their daughter play a game at an amusement park for her birthday, was. It was not a complicated scene to shoot, no special effects or CGI was involved that I could tell, so the scene looked pretty much like it did the day they filmed it in Oregon. It was fun to see it on the big screen, and not something I will soon forget.
Extraordinary Measures is out on Blu-ray and DVD as of June 1, 2010. With a PG rating, the film is suitable for all ages and is a great family film. I highly recommend buying, or at least renting, Extraordinary Measures. It is the kind of movie that makes you want to go and make a difference helping others. In my opinion, that makes it one of the best.
Extraordinary Measures premiered in theaters January 2010. It became available on CD for purchase or rental in June 2010.
If you are interested in learning more about Pompe, or if you want to help, go to UnitedPompe.com.