“Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close” Comes Up Short

It has been almost 10 1/2 years since the devastating attacks on 9/11. In that time stories both fact and fiction, have been in abundance in print, film and by word of mouth. These stories have been told for numerous reasons. They have showed us those who were courageous on that day. They showed us those who lost love ones. They showed us miraculous survivals and so on and so on. Some have been told specifically just to tug at our heart strings and some so that we may never forget the horror of that dark day.

The trouble with “Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close” is that it doesn’t really have any of these identities. It does have frequent moments aimed directly at your heart and emotions which give it the feeling that they are there to pull a cry from the audience. From what I observed by the few that were in the theater and what I could hear it was wildly successful at this.

The movie is, at it’s center about a painfully shy boy’s love for his father whom he lost on 9/11and his fear that he will forget and feel further away from his father the longer he has been gone. He discovers a key in a vase and, based on the adventures that he and his late father used to embark on, he feels this is his only chance to continue to feel close to his father. He believes this is the ultimate adventure and that the key will bring him the ultimate reward for his efforts from his father. He befriends an old silent man that is renting a room from his grandmother whom he unwittingly recruits to help with his search.

Without giving too much away the movie has a very empty feeling and ending. With a completely unbelievable story line of a boy of no more than 10 years old spending every weekend exploring the entire NYC area alone without taking public transportation and showing up at complete strangers homes to find out what and if they know anything about his newly found key.

The boy is without question in almost every single frame of film in the movie and features very basic and limited performances from the supporting cast which include Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, Max Von Sydow, Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright. The stand out is Academy Award nominee Max Von Sydow who doesn’t utter a word his entire time on screen but it is by far not his best performance of his career. Sandra Bullock does not even come close to her Oscar winning performance from The Blind Side. It’s not completely her fault, with basic lines like, “ A man flew a plane into a building, and I don’t know why!”

Make no mistake it is still a sensitive issue and always will be for those who lived threw it and were in any way affected by it. The trouble is there hasn’t been one, blow your mind, good, movie about September 11th and the ones that have been well done and decent pictures have almost been too disturbing and hard to watch again (See United 93) which is a key factor to making a lasting and great film.

If you have a sensitive disposition and cry fairly easily and are looking for a good cry, then this is the movie for you. It’s everything sentimental that it’s supposed to be without the great substance that one would hope. It’s a 3 star movie disguised as an Oscar contender. It pushed every correct button to garner the nominations that it got. It’s a soft fluffy piece that will appeal to house wives with 2.5 kids but if you are looking for a solid well made movie that will leave a lasting impression this is not for you.

8 thoughts on ““Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close” Comes Up Short”

  1. I knew in my gut this movie would be a loser. Predicated on the flimsy premise that America wants to sob their way through this horrific tragedy…again…anyway, I appreciate your commentary and it confirms my initial impression!

  2. I haven’t seen this yet and originally I was going to see it in the cinema once it gets released in my town. But after reading your review (which is great) I might just wait until it comes out on TV. I still want to see it because of Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, though is her performance doesn’t match Blind Side I think I will just end up disappointed.

  3. I agree and also wrote a blog post about my opinion on the film. Since I read the book before seeing the film, I was kinda disappointed with the way it was depicted. The friends I went with thought it was going to be a 9/11 movie and it completely isn’t about that. However, I would argue that Oskar Schell is a complicated character and Thomas Horn performed it kind of flawlessly (in regards to the book).

  4. I would argue that you missed the purpose of this film. It is NOT a story about 9/11, it is a story about a boy with autism. In an interview I saw with the book’s author the framework of his book was not even set in NYC, nor on 9/11. The change of setting from his original idea was, I believe, a matter of “tidying up” the death of the Tom Hanks character without taking the reader/viewer off on a side trip. I agree with Alyssa that Thomas Horn flawlessly portrayed this young man who, due to his disability would have difficulty dealing socially with others and in communicating with them. The adventures the Tom Hanks character would design were done so to actively engage his son, and force communication with others. I saw this from a totally different angle, and find it a wonderful movie!!

    1. Thanks for reading. I would argue that if the boy had a disability as severe as autism no responsible parent would let them roam the streets of NYC. If it wasn’t about 9/11 it was awfully prominent part of the movie with more than half dealing with the actual day and speaking about the day where if it’s truly about his disability then more than one line should be dedicated to that. A triumph n story of autism is Rain Man. This was a review if the making of a movie not the book as well. 9/11 is an easy way to “tiddy up” any story and if the author believed enough in his conviction of telling a story about rising above autism then he would have no need to bring 9/11 into it.
      Thanks for your opinions and please keep reading and giving your thoughts!

  5. I used to like movies that manipulated the audience to tears, but now it really has to have substance for me to want to cry. It’s funny how I’ve changed, but now I’d prefer to have fun in a movie than feel empty sadness. Thanks for the review– I’ll wait for cable!

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