Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011) Review

I’m going to start off by saying two things.  One—no matter what movie he’s in or how small a role he plays, Tom Hanks has the ability to make me cry like a little baby, even if I really don’t want to.  There’s just something about him that’s so fatherly to me that I guess it strikes a chord in me.  Two—I am not sure how I felt about the use of 9/11 as a backdrop for this film.  In fact, I think it’s just one of those tragedies that are just still too new to make a movie about.  I feel like it’s easier for people to sit through a movie with something like WWII as a backdrop, because that happened so long ago and most people living now were either not born yet or too young to remember, so watching something about it doesn’t impact them the same.  I would imagine though, if WWII was just a few years ago, filmmakers would probably be expected to tread a lot more lightly since even a dramatization could hurt or offend people.

I’m not saying this movie is offensive or meant to be offensive to people who were greatly impacted by that day, since I haven’t done too much research behind what inspired the original novel or why someone wanted to turn it into a movie.  At the same time though, there was something about it that bothered me.

Was it good?  From a certain angle, I think I could say yes.  I thought Thomas Horn, who played the role of Oskar Schell, acted well for someone with no prior experience (at least, it was to my understanding he had no experience other than being on Jeopardy).  I think Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, and Max von Sydow did well also.  However, on the other hand, it kind of bothered me that this movie seemed to scream of someone trying to make money off of a tragedy that still affects people.

The comparison has been done before, and I have to agree—this movie is very similar to Hugo in a lot of ways.  Entertainment Weekly did a comparison chart of this.  For those curious, it can be found here.  The same article, in chart form, can be found in the January 13th issue of Entertainment Weekly on page 68 of the print edition, or the 11th page of the movie reviews section in the iPad edition.

Again, I can’t say anything for the book, but the movie seemed to be less about 9/11 and more about how a child and his widowed mother deal with grief.  That being the case, the use of 9/11 as the tragedy they cope with seemed a little unnecessary.

Also, on a slightly random note, I had mixed feelings about the ending too.  On the one hand, I suppose it did make some sense based on another scene in the movie, so I understand how it was significant in that regard.  I also liked how it was one of those still-frame endings; I haven’t seen one of those at the end of a movie in a long time.  On the other hand, I really would have liked the story to end kind of like We Bought a Zoo did.  So my ideal ending would have been Oskar narrating about how his father would say if things weren’t easy to find, they wouldn’t be worth finding.  The shot I’m talking about can be found from approximately 2:23-2:26, give or take a second in this YouTube video.

Overall I guess I would say it was average, but not incredible.  I think for the most part the casting was well done.  I think if the casting had been terrible then the movie more than likely would have been pretty awful too.  At the same time, something just seemed to be missing in the movie too.  I can’t really place my finger on it though.

As for my usual score break-down bit, here it is:

Originality: ***
Picture: ***
Sound: ****
Story: ***
Casting: ****
Re-watch Factor: **
Overall: ***

FINAL VERDICT: B

Would I recommend that people watch this?  It depends.  I can see some audiences getting offended by it.  Would I recommend watching this in theaters or waiting for it to come out on TV or something?  I think I’d recommend that unless you’re really itching to watch something, anything in theaters, then I’d probably wait for it to come out on TV or via some DVD rental service.

Anyway, until next entry.  See you all later!

4 responses to “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011) Review

  1. I had an opportunity to see this movie a while back, but ended up passing on the film. My reason for passing it over, which you covered in your second point of the opening review, is the use of 9/11. As a film goer, I have passed on seeing movies that directly use 9/11 as an emotional backdrop for a movie. In fact any movie that has 9/11 in it, I will dismiss. It’s a bad thing to do, but I usually see those movies that have that element, using it for a cheap emotional heart string tug.

    You even touch on the fact that it is used a ploy or vehicle for some of the emotional states that the characters have. I know I don’t have much to add to the discussion other than my general cynicism about particular emotional points, but I glad that there are bloggers that are picking up on this aspect of the film when writing their reviews. Solid job!

    • Thanks for your comment! Yeah, this film definitely took a risk with the subject matter it touched on. As I said, on the one hand, I think it was done well. On the other hand, it’s a film that could definitely upset people because of the tragedy that was used to help illustrate how a child copes with the loss of a parent.

  2. More irritating than touching, healing or any of the positive things one would guess such a story and cast would produce. This was just a totally manipulative film that tries so hard to be emotional that it almost strains itself and its leading “actor”, Thomas Horn who is probably one of the most annoying kids I have seen on-screen in awhile. Good review.

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