Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

22 Jan

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a late (theoretical) entry in the 2011 Oscar race, finally wide across the country (including in St. Louis) this weekend, following a limited release in December (to make it eligible for awards season). Extremely Loud… tells the story of a month in the life of Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old New Yorker who lost his father in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Oskar (Thomas Horn) is an amateur explorer and inventor, whose father Thomas (Tom Hanks) encourages him to try new things and meet new people, and devises expeditions and quests to encourage Oskar. Following his father’s death, Oskar discovers a mysterious key in his belongings, in an envelope with the word “Black” written on it. Determined to find the lock that the key fits into, Oskar decides to check with every person with the last name “Black” in the Greater New York area, to find the one who knew his father and what the key means.

Horn, a former Jeopardy Kids’ Tournament winner, is a discovery as Oskar, fully embodying his quirks and tics. Oskar displays traits of Asperger’s Syndrome, and following the movie, I told a friend (Brad Watts of Watts Up Reviews) that I was interested in seeing what Horn was really like, so convincing was he as Oskar. As Oskar’s beloved father, Tom Hanks is pretty much what Tom Hanks has become, the prototypical everyman that those of us who consider ourselves everymen hope we’re like. Sandra Bullock is fully convincing as Oskar’s distant, still-grieving mother, a character about as different from her Oscar-winning turn in The Blind Side as can be, and Max Von Sydow’s performance as a mysterious mute who accompanies Oskar on much of his quest may well lead to an Oscar nomination.

The problem with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, however, is its weightiness. It’s too heavy for its own good, almost ponderous at points. Some of the humor present in an end-of-quest montage would have better served the movie in its body, as the film never seems to get past the fact that it’s a SERIOUS MOVIE. That the central quest itself does not resolve in a manner that many theater goers will be happy with doesn’t seem to matter a whit. Despite this, the movie still resonated, so I’ll recommend it for the performances, with some reservation.

My Score: 5 Cheeseburgers

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2 Responses to “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

  1. CMrok93 January 24, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    There are times when this film its moments, but they get too bogged down by the incredibly annoying lead actor that obviously can’t act, and some scenes where they are trying way too hard to get emotions out from the audience as well. Good review.

    • CPav January 24, 2012 at 7:26 am #

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      I actually couldn’t disagree more with you regarding Thomas Horn. If you’ve ever met someone with Aspergers, the kid was dead on, to the point where I commented to a friend that I wanted to see an interview with him to see what he was really like, to be sure he was acting.

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