9 Reasons I Loathed “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
My daughter, Olive, was born on 9/10/01. The other day, she told me she wanted to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the new drama about a 9-year-old whose dad died on 9/11. Perhaps even more than other kids of her generation, she’s curious about the events that occurred that day. I had no intention of seeing the movie after suffering through the trailer numerous times. But I decided to preview it to see if it’s appropriate for Olive. Sorry, doll, but I wouldn’t recommend it to you—or anyone else. Here’s why.
9. Sandra Bullock is in it. I remember Sandy from high school. She was a cheerleader for our cross-town rival—and she was seriously cute. But I just can’t take her seriously as an actress. She should’ve stuck to playing plucky bus drivers and doing comatose rom-coms. The fact that she took home an Oscar for her syrupy, cornpone performance in The Blind Side, while, say, Glenn Close and Julianne Moore have never won one makes me crazy. Here, sporting the least flattering hairstyle since Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, she plays the least sympathetic mother since Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest. But since it’s Sandy, we’re supposed to adore her. I didn’t.
8. Tom Hanks is (barely) in it. As the father, seen only in flashbacks, Hanks is supposed to be lovably quirky, the kind of guy who reads A Brief History of Time to his kid as a bedtime story, which seems like child abuse to me. Hanks is even more irksome here than he was in Larry Crowne—and that’s saying something.
7. James Gandolfini isn’t in it! He was billed in the original poster and the trailer, but if you’re hoping to see the Artist Formerly Known as Tony Soprano in the actual movie, fuhgeddaboudit! His role as a widower who meets Bullock in a support group got whacked on the cutting-room floor.
6. Max Von Sydow is in it—but he doesn’t speak. I love MVS: Who else could play both Jesus Christ in The Greatest Story Ever Told and Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon? But one of his greatest gifts is his rich, milky voice. Still, as a mute who helps the young boy on his search to find a lock that fits the key his father left behind (a story much better-told in Hugo), Von Sydow is the best—no, make that the only good—thing about the movie.
5. John Goodman is wasted in it. Speaking of silent performances, Goodman gave a great one in The Artist, but he might as well have not had any lines in this movie either, since his role as a doorman is as useless as a broken elevator.
4. Stephen Daldry directed it. Stephen Dreary is more like it. He’s made three films—Billy Elliot, The Hours and The Reader—and inexplicably earned three Oscar nominations for Best Director. Here’s hoping this tone-deaf sapfest breaks the streak.
3. The kid is extremely lame and incredibly cloying. First of all, 14-year-old Thomas Horn is way too old to pass for 9. Second of all, the Teen Jeopardy! champ—making his film-acting debut—is all-too-convincing as Oskar Schell, a pesky know-it-all who spouts random facts, like that humans are the only creatures who cry tears. You want to slap him until he proves it.
2. The movie was extremely loud and incredibly close. Because I had to wait in line 20 minutes for my now-traditional hot dog and Coke Zero dinner at the sole small theater where Extremely Loud is playing in Manhattan, the only seat available was on the second-row aisle. That didn’t help, but this movie would suck from any angle.
1. It reduces 9/11 to a cheap, tearjerking device. There’s no such thing as “too soon” if material is handled intelligently; Denis Leary and Peter Tolan’s Rescue Me unearthed seven brilliant years of stories from the ashes of the World Trade Center. I didn’t read Jonathan Safran Foer’s original novel, but Daldry and screenwriter Eric Roth (who also penned Hanks’ moronic Forrest Gump, which was just ridiculously added to the National Film Registry), alternately trivialize and sanitize “the worst day,” as Oskar incessantly calls it. This much I know: Sitting through all 129 brutally sentimental minutes of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close felt like my worst day.
Will you see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? And, c’mon, Forrest Gump?