Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close follows the search of nine year-old with Asberger’s Syndrome who finds a key in his father’s (Tom Hanks) possessions and embarks on the kind of adventure his father used to create for him before his death on 9/11.
Oskar Schell’s (Thomas Horn) adventure takes him all over New York in an attempt to find a man or woman with the last name of Black who may be the only person who knows what lock the key fits. Over the course of his search Oskar meets several people including the mysterious mute renter (Max von Sydow) of his grandmother’s (Zoe Caldwell), who Oskar begins taking with him on his search.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is too cute for its own good. Although similar in the type of story told in Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated (one of my favorite films of 2005) director Stephen Daldry struggles with framing the tale.
Its secrets are too easily given, its characters march to a beat of the script only because it demands they do, and the audience is led to revelations that feel forced, hamfisted, and lacking any weight (which is an inexcusable failure for a film that ties so directly to the events of 9/11). Throw in an incredibly ridiculous final twist involving Oskar’s mother (Sandra Bullock) and it’s almost impossible not to roll your eyes when you discuss the film.
Despite filling his journal with pictures and stories of the various characters he meets on his journey it turns out the husband (Jeffrey Wright) of the first person (Viola Davis) Oskar talked to has the answer to his mystery. Disappointed by the truth about the key, not surprisingly, Oskar learns that the journey was more important than its ending. Sappy, bordering on melodramatic at times, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close wastes some good performances, including that of its young lead, on a journey that least nowhere (at least nowhere interesting).
DVD extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the film and a featurette on the the film’s young star Thomas Horn. The Blu-ray also includes featurettes on Max von Sydow and looking back at the events of 9/11 ten years later.
[Warner Home Video, Blu-ray $29.98 / DVD $28.98]