Film Pulse Score

Release Date: January 20, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Stephen Daldry
FilmPulse Score: 5.5/10

Oskar (Thomas Horn) is convinced that his father (Tom Hanks), who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, has left a final message for him hidden somewhere in the city. Feeling disconnected from his grieving mother (Sandra Bullock) and driven by a relentlessly active mind that refuses to believe in things that can’t be observed, Oskar begins searching New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key he found in his father’s closet. His journey through the five boroughs takes him beyond his own loss to a greater understanding of the observable world around him. — (C) Warner Bros

Nominated for Best Motion Picture at this year’s Academy Awards, and considering the subject matter, one would think this film is a touching journey of a boy trying make sense of, and cope with, the loss of his father. They definitely are trying to sell us on that, but I’m not buying it.

While the film is touching at times, it mostly feels like we’re being force-fed emotions. I felt guilty for not crying my eyes out nearly every scene. Then I asked myself, “Why am I not feeling the pain and sadness of these characters?” I’m a very emotional movie watcher. I find myself getting choked up over the most mundane scenes in films that aren’t even supposed to evoke sadness. After careful consideration, I realized that I didn’t feel emotional towards the characters because the movie isn’t very good.

The film plays out like a hollow Wes Anderson film. As Oskar continues his quest throughout New York, we’re introduced to many of the colorful characters he meets along the way. Although most of these people cannot help him on his quest, Oskar inevitably inspires them and gives them hope during the aftermath of 9/11.

This brings up the fatal flaw of the movie.  The character of Oskar is completely broken, and causes the film to suffer greatly. Oskar is eccentric to the extreme, and most likely has Asperger’s Syndrome. Although, he does mention being tested for it, it doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s extremely unlikable and incredibly annoying.  His mood throughout the film is erratic to say the least, ranging from acting like an emotionless sociopath, to violent fits of rage. To calm himself down he carries a tambourine with him everywhere he goes and as a result, we get to listen to him shake a tambourine non-stop for nearly the entire movie. It seems like the filmmakers read the book and didn’t really know which direction to take the character in, so they just said screw it, let’s meld every interpretation of him into one.

The film’s only saving grace is the strong performances by both Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.  Hanks plays the world’s best dad part to perfection as one might expect him to do.  It’s rare to see a truly flawless father character in a movie, and it’s very refreshing to see. Some of the most touching moments in the film are when Oskar and his father are together.

While Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has all the makings of a great film, it’s shortcomings prevent it from being more than just another cash-in on 9/11.  Overly long and slightly annoying, this flick doesn’t warrant anything more than a rental. It’s amazing that this somehow ended up nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars. My guess is that the Academy forgot about real movies like Tinker Tailor Solider Spy and Drive.


  1. David Hollingsworth Reply

    This is was definitely an Oscar bait movie: shallow, hollow, and super pretentious. There are amazing films about the emotional aftermath of 9/11. This is so not one of them.

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