Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

A little boy is convinced that when his father died in the World Trade Center, the key he left in a vase in the closet must’ve been for him. Since that father is played by Tom Hanks, it’s a safe bet this wasn’t the key to some seedy motel and that the name “Black” written on it, isn’t a mistress.

Hanks had been giving his son Oskar various “reconnaissance expeditions” to help him get over the social anxieties and fears he had. He has a form of Asperger’s – which is the flavor of the month for screenwriters.

This screenwriter (Eric Roth) gave us Forrest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons. Roth likes those stories about a journey in life.

Director Stephen Daldry gave us The Reader, an interesting Holocaust story that could’ve been a better film.

And yes, the Holocaust is touched upon here, in the Max von Sydow character. He’s an amazing actor, but to have him not speaking because of the atrocities he witnessed in a concentration camp – is just ridiculous. If you’re not giving this amazing actor lines, he should be in The Artist.

If his character is so scarred and frightened by his past, that’s fine. Just don’t turn him into a jovial character who later bond with the kid or gives advice during certain times when it’s convenient.

It’s a shame that he’s going to be nominated for an Oscar for this, too; and it won’t be the only Oscar nomination this movie receives.

It’s the type of film people will either love or hate.

I’m somewhere in the middle. I didn’t care for the scenes that involved Hanks being the “greatest dad in the world.” For example, I found it much more powerful in the underrated movie Unbreakable, when Samuel Jackson’s mom (Charlayne Woodard) wants her son to go outside – and knowing he loves comic books – places one on a park bench that he can see from his window; one quick scene and not a constant bombarding of manipulative emotional scenes.

I won’t even go into the exploitive use of 9/11in the story, although it certainly helps if using 9/11 is done in smaller doses (the way A Little Help did a few years ago).

Thomas Horn went from winning a kid version of Jeopardy! in real life to making movies where he’s yelling at Sandra Bullock “I wish it was you that died in that building!”

It's a great career move, but hardly makes him a likable character in this film.

With his grating voice and comments like that, I’m wondering if that’s why she let him wander all over New York on his own without a concern over his safety.

Even when he says interesting things like “If the sun were to explode, we wouldn’t even know about it for eight minutes,” you just want to ring his little precocious neck. Now, these types of lines can be done well. In Jerry Maguire we love the factoids that kid throws out there.

Now, with all that negative stuff being said, I have to admit I did kind of enjoy the journey it took me on. I could also still have sympathy for the kid, because he went through a lot.

I did need to use the napkins I brought for popcorn, to dab my eyes once or twice;

mostly watching a marriage break up between Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright. The subtle way that is shown was perfect.

I have to admit I was a bit distracted by John Goodman as the doorman. I’ve seen him in two movies recently (The Artist being the other), and he’s heavy. Yet in all these interviews, he’s now thin. This is like when an actor dies and you keep seeing movies come out that they appeared in.

His character was also a little forced, but I laughed at a few of his lines.

I have to begrudgingly admit that I enjoyed the movie. I’m guessing most audiences will, too.  

I’m giving it 2 ½ out of 5 stars.