EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES:

When a movie tells me at its beginning that it’s “inspired by true events,” I know that it’s not going to let facts get in the way of relating its story. Credibility aside, inspirational certainly isn’t an adjective I’d use to describe this very ordinary film about a pharmaceutical executive’s (Brendan Fraser) efforts to save his two small children (Meredith Droeger, Diego Velazquez) from a fatal illness known as Pompe’s disease which had no known cure. But since there wouldn’t be any need for this movie if the kids died, Fraser (GODS AND MONSTERS) enlists the aid of a biochemistry professor (Harrison Ford) working on an antidote that the medical community rejects. Once a watchable actor, Ford (WITNESS) isn’t terribly believable as the misanthropic genius his character is supposed to be and spends most of the film either yelling at somebody or muttering dialogue that sounds like “grumble, grumble, grumble.” Many of the scenes take place with investors and venture capitalists being persuaded to fund a project resulting in medication that will successfully treat Pompe patients. These sequences are about as absorbing as that daily/weekly staff meeting that you can’t wait to get out of. So much of the movie’s attention is on the plucky newcomer Droeger that her five-year-old brother’s same and more dire condition seems like an inconvenient afterthought. Director/writer Tom Vaughn’s screenplay is a shallow one that sidesteps the matter of the medication’s cost of $300,000 annually for life and that most insurance companies won’t pay for it. (And since current Senate Republicans could care less about poor, sick children, most are S.O.L.) In short, this is an example of a great story that got shortchanged by its mediocre movie treatment. CRITIC’S GRADE: C

MOVIE YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR THIS SUPER BOWL WEEKEND: Made almost 25 years before 9/11, BLACK SUNDAY (1977) is an edge-of-your-seat thriller about an international Arab terrorist plot to blow up the Super Bowl. Robert Shaw (JAWS) stars as an Israeli agent out to thwart the attack aided by Bruce Dern (COMING HOME) at his “looney tunes” best as the Goodyear blimp pilot enlisted to carry out the carnage. The action and aerial photography are spectacular and coincidentally were filmed in Miami, this Sunday’s game site, using the Cowboys-Steelers game in Super Bowl X as a backdrop.