Friday, January 27, 2012

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close represents all that is bad among the wasteful critical darlings of this year’s awards season. It’s more needlessly sentimental than The Help, duller and more didactic than War Horse, and more boring than My Week With Marilyn, Albert Nobbs and The Iron Lady combined. In short, the film is a perfect cinematic encapsulation of everything that went wrong in 2011.

After his father (Tom Hanks) dies in the World Trader Center on “the worst day,” ten-year-old Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) spends a year or so trapped worse than ever in the isolation of his tortured mind. (Oskar clearly has some form of Asperger’s syndrome, despite his incessant claims otherwise.) Then one day, between epic bouts of scrapbooking, ripping out his skin, hiding in his closet, and telling his mother (Sandra Bullock) that he wishes she was dead, Oskar finds a small key in his father’s closest.

In no time, Oskar is thumbing through phone books, writing down every instance of the name Black (which was printed on the envelope where the key was found), and soon sets off on a journey to find what the key unlocks.

And this is the exact moment where the film lost me. I had put up with Oskar’s constant manic-depressive episodes, Sandra Bullock’s look-at-me-I’m-really-trying acting and Tom Hanks’ futile performance, but when Oskar stood on a rock in Central Park and announced to us, via arguably the most annoying narration in the history of cinema, that he was going to visit every person with a Black surname in New York and its surrounding boroughs, I all but checked out.

For starters, because Oskar is afraid of seemingly everything, including public transportation, he opts to walk to the hundreds of “Black” homes. His first stop is in Brooklyn. Now, let’s think about this. A walk from the edge of Central Park to the edge of Brooklyn via the Williamsburg Bridge would take roughly two hours, even longer for a ten-year-old. So that’s minimum four hours (there and back) for one home. But considering the film’s fondness for montage, Oskar appears to hit about 10 homes a day. Continuity, so it seems, is not this film’s strongest quality.
As directed by the always well-intentioned Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader), Extremely Loud is an excessively long, terribly annoying, cringe-worthy misfire. Not even the likes of Max von Sydow (as a mute neighbor who accompanies Oskar on some of his journey) can save the film from its many weaknesses. (For the record, von Sydow earned his Supporting Actor nomination, but not above the likes of Albert Brooks and Ben Kingsley.)

The film, it must be said, has a resolution that I found oddly satisfying, which only managed to anger me more. Toward the end, Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright, two actors who have no idea how to do wrong, are relied on to deliver, which they do, and then some. But what’s five good minutes stuck underneath 120 minutes of pure garbage? Damaged goods, that’s what.


  1. 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 my homie.

  2. @Dan O. Thanks Dan! I completely agree with everything you said. Whatta bore.

  3. I've not seen it, but I still question (due to poor reviews) this films extremely stupid and incredibly nonsensical Oscar nomination.

    Good review. I've followed.

  4. Man, you're so right about this and I haven't seen it nor do I want to see this piece of shit.

    The thing that grates me about Stephen Daldry is that I find his directing style to be very annoying in its meticulous, grand, by-the-book style. I liked Billy Elliot though it was quite flawed but I really found The Hours to be very boring. It wasn't the acting I disliked but the way it was presented in its framing. There wasn't a a lot of humor and it felt so stagingly dramatic.

    If it wasn't for Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, The Reader would've been one of the most unengaging films I had ever seen.

    I think the reason why I compared him to Michael Bay is because they're both making movies for selfish reasons. Bay wants to win over audiences with bloated and hollow spectacles that are very jarring and nonsensical while making a shitload of money off of it.

    Daldry is a filmmaker who is interested in making these very dramatic, broad, and stagy films that Oscar voters love. He wants that award so bad and he wants his actors to praise him as if he's the Almighty.

    What a bunch of fucking assholes.

  5. @Myerla You are extremely right and incredibly perceptive. Thanks for stopping by! Gonna check out your site soon.

  6. @thevoid99 I don't know what else to say except agree x 10. Bravo.

  7. Worst Oscar nominated movie in a long, long time? Cheers for the review.

  8. @Alex Thomas Well, since The Blind Side. That one I will never understand haha. Thanks man!

  9. This is what the film is about? I know nothing about this film...except that it stars Sandra Bollocks and that the kid's dad dies in 9/11. Sounds tedious, and incredibly boring - and I was shocked that it was nominated for Best Picture. Nice review my friend.

  10. Dude it is SO boring, can't even tell you. The Best Pic nom is totally political, a complete waste of a space for a much more deserving film(s).

  11. I wonder how much did it cost the studio to buy these nods for this movie.
    Great review!

  12. Millions, I would assume. So so sad.

  13. I didn't necessarily think the film was terrible nor amazing, but is it more worthy of a Best Picture nod over the likes of Bridesmaids, Harry Potter, Drive, Shame, We Need To Talk About Kevin, or Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? Nah.

    1. My god, just scanning back over this review... ha, I really hated this flick. It's Best Pic nod was so random to me.