Oh Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, what exactly are you trying to accomplish here? Did you think you could tug on my heart strings with your 9/11-inspired family tale? Did you think that Tom Hanks’ billing would pull the wool over my eyes? And don’t think I didn’t notice that movie poster faux-pas; those are definitely not the kid’s hands! I cry Photoshop! (See picture above) Let it be known Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I had absolutely no interest in seeing you, but you were nominated for Best Picture, so I did see you…for your flaws!
The film’s protagonist is Oskar, played by Jeopardy winner (really? Yes, really) Thomas Horn. Oskar is mourning the death of his father Thomas (Tom Hanks), who died in the World Trade Center on September 11th. Before his death, Thomas created many scavenger hunts for Oskar to complete. So when Oskar finds a mysterious key in an envelope that says “Black,” Oskar believes it to be one last scavenger hunt to complete; the last link he has to his father. He goes on a quest all over New York to various persons with the last name “Black;” hoping that they know what the key unlocks. Amidst his quest he inadvertently pushes his grieving mother (Sandra Bullock) away. Another pit stop on his journey is the curious addition of a subplot of a man who may or may not be his Grandfather (Max on Sydow.) Eventually Oskar uncovers the mystery of the key, but it may not be an answer he was hoping for.
The story definitely has a lot of emotion, but it’s TOO much emotion. The story of a boy fighting to keep his father’s memory alive and the people he meets is a poignant story as it is, but it seems more drama had to be toppled on. If Oscar movies were dramatic single scoop ice cream cones, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is three extra gluttonous scoops of melodrama. The inclusion of Max von Sydow’s character is completely befuddling; a mystery for the sake of mystery. And the kid, man oh man that kid. It is never stated in the film (or Wikipedia) that Oskar is autistic; so either he has some form of autism or he’s just really annoying. They made Oskar so incredibly quirky and off-the-wall emotional that it was hard to like him. If you trimmed the fat, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close could be a decent film. In reality however, it is an almost inapproachable film that wants to twist your arm into shedding a few tears. No thank you.
Final Grade: C