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.