"Good intensions aside, this flick just shouldn't have been made."
A young kid who lost his father in the 9/11 tragedy, finds a key that belonged to his father and sets out on an adventure across New York City in hopes of finding the lock it belongs to.
As Hollywood's golden age struggles with its last dying breaths, we filmgoers have been forced to endure all sorts of trauma; from needless remakes (the list is far too long to get into), to worthless re-imaginations of things long forgotten (THE SMURFS), to pitiful attempts at cashing in on things of old (THE THREE STOOGES) and the uninspiring wheels just keep on turning. I can't say I applaud any of those tactics (or the fruits of their labour), but one thing that irks me more than anything is Hollywood's need to usurp tragedies for money. From my standpoint, some issues are and should remain taboo. The events surrounding 9/11 are among them.
I remember exactly where I was when this terrible incident occurred, I was working at a restaurant when it streamed all over the news. Everyone stopped what they were doing, eyes glued to the TV screens. I understand the media coverage, interviews and I applaud documentary style exploits of the fallen heroes and those working hard to contain the chaos, but a feature film, now, just feels wrong to me. The story isn't even all that enticing to begin with, I mean with HUGO barely out of theatres (a story about a kid who loses his father and is looking for a key to unlock a mystery), this feels like a mixed around version of the same story with a real-life tragedy back drop to help sell it. I know that might come off as a bit harsh, but here we have a kid who loses his father, finds a mysterious key and then sets off on an adventure across New York City to figure out what it opens. Not completely the same, but far too similar to ignore.
Tom Hanks shines as the deceased father and Sandra Bullock delivers as his left behind wife whose child, Oskar, is getting temperamental due to an inability to cope with his loss. Bullock switched things up with THE BLIND SIDE, really showing her dramatic chops and I dug that considerably, she's ageing well as an actress. The one sour note here (which is a mixed bag with critics and fans alike) comes from Oskar himself (Thomas Horn). I get where the kid's at, I do, I can't imagine how rough his situation must be, but his attitude just makes him unlikable, despite his righteous cause and seeing as how he's the focal point of the film it just doesn't work. That said, Max Von Sydow is always a welcome treat, which in itself is saying something seeing as how his character had no dialogue whatsoever.
EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDITBLY CLOSE was extremely emotional but incredibly unnecessary. I don't think there's ever a "right time" for a film based on a tragedy, but if they were going to pull this off gracefully (that is, without the green finger of money being pointed at them) they really should have tackled something like it much sooner than now. I remember the first time I heard DJ Sammy's remix of the song "Heaven" with a little girl talking to her dead father in the lyrics. I'm not ashamed to admit I cried the entire time it played, and I still get tears in my eyes whenever I hear the regular version on the radio. That was a proper tribute to the losses people suffered that day. That was the right way to do it. Making a movie about it, especially after so many years, just feels cheap and wrong, no matter the story, acting or message they're trying to get across.