Written by / 1/22/2012 / No comments / ,

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE

title: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 
year: 2011
cast: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks
rating: ***

Kids in life-affirming movies usually know way too much for their age – seeming invented by writers who put their own intellectual spin on youth. And here’s the champion of that particular breed, Thomas Horn as Oskar Schell, a brainy, adventurous "inventor" who loses his creative-muse father, played by Tom Hanks, on the infamous September 11th 2001 aka 911. Much of the film is a human scavenger hunt: after finding a key in dad’s closet, Oskar roams (a bit too freely) through New York City to find the person with the last name BLACK, the name written on the key's envelope, to find out what it opens. Going back and forth from the present, a year later, to the dreaded 911 morning serves not only a platform for the kid's emotions, but provides Tom Hanks with a moving performance: and it’s all a voice on an answering machine, trying desperately to reach his son while stranded in one of the ill-fated twin towers. Max Von Sydow plays a mysterious old man who doesn’t speak, aiding Oskar in his seemingly hopeless quest that gets less interesting as the film wares on. Thomas Horn, while being a very talented young actor, seems a bit too theater-trained; and his whining screech gets tiresome. Sandra Bullock provides filler as the put-upon mother with a secret all her own. And the conclusion, intentionally anticlimactic but ultimately making the characters feel good, might not serve the audience who suffered through, and hoped for, a resolution far more... complete. With creative direction and a uniquely suspenseful quest, it’s a decent movie for a first viewing, but probably not something you’ll want (or need) to watch a second time.
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