Extraordinary Measures
Extraordinary measures poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTom Vaughan
Written byRobert Nelson Jacobs
Based onThe Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million — And Bucked the Medical Establishment — in a Quest to Save His Children
by Geeta Anand
Produced by
CinematographyAndrew Dunn
Edited byAnne V. Coates
Music byAndrea Guerra
Double Feature Films
Distributed byCBS Films (North America)
Sony Pictures Releasing International (International)[1][2]
Release date
  • January 22, 2010 (2010-01-22)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$31 million[3]
Box office$15 million[3]

Extraordinary Measures is a 2010 American medical drama film starring Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford, and Keri Russell. It was the first film produced by CBS Films, the film division of CBS Corporation, who released the film on January 22, 2010. The film is about parents who form a biotechnology company to develop a drug to save the lives of their children, who have a life-threatening disease. The film is based on the true story of John and Aileen Crowley, whose children have Pompe's disease. The film was shot in St. Paul, Oregon; Portland, Oregon; Tualatin, Oregon; Wilsonville, Oregon; Manzanita, Oregon; Beaverton, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington.


John Crowley and his wife Aileen are a Portland couple with two of their three children suffering from Pompe disease, a genetic anomaly that typically kills most children before their tenth birthdays. John, an advertising executive, contacts Robert Stonehill, a researcher in Nebraska who has done innovative research for an enzyme treatment for the rare disease. John and Aileen raise money to help Stonehill's research and the required clinical trials.

John takes on the task full-time to save his children's lives, launching a biotechnology research company working with venture capitalists and then rival teams of researchers. This task proves very daunting for Stonehill, who already works around the clock. As time is running short, Stonehill's angry outburst hinders the company's faith in him, and the profit motive may upend John's hopes. The researchers race against time to save the children who have the disease.


John Crowley makes a cameo appearance as a venture capitalist.


Adapted by Robert Nelson Jacobs from the nonfiction book The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million—and Bucked the Medical Establishment—in a Quest to Save His Children by the Pulitzer Prize journalist Geeta Anand, the film is also an examination of how medical research is conducted and financed.

Filming in May 2009 at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon
Filming in May 2009 at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon

Filming took place at several spots in and around Portland, Oregon, mostly at the OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital, Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Nike campus in Beaverton, Oregon. This was the first time Nike allowed filming on their campus and they donated the location payment to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.[4] During filming, the working title was The Untitled Crowley Project.[5]

In the film, the children are 9 and 7 years old. Their non-fiction counterparts were diagnosed at 15 months and 7 days old and received treatment at 5 and 4, respectively.[6]


Myozyme, a drug developed for treating Pompe disease, was simultaneously approved for sale by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency. Henceforth, more than 1000 infants born worldwide every year with Pompe disease will no longer face the prospect of death before reaching their first birthday for lack of a treatment for the condition.

The screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs is based on Geeta Anand's book The Cure (ISBN 9780060734398).[7] Parts of the book first appeared as a series of articles in The Wall Street Journal.

The small start-up company Priozyme was based on Oklahoma City-based Novazyme. The larger company, called Zymagen in the film, was based on Genzyme in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[8] Novazyme was developing a protein therapeutic, with several biological patents pending, to treat Pompe Disease, when it was bought by Genzyme. The patent portfolio was cited in the press releases announcing the deal.[9]

Genzyme claims that Dr. Robert Stonehill's character is based upon scientist and researcher William Canfield,[10] who founded Novazyme.[11] According to Roger Ebert's review, the character is based on Yuan-Tsong Chen,[6] a scientist and researcher from Duke University[12] who collaborated with Genzyme in producing Myozyme, the drug which received FDA approval.


Critical response

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 29% based on reviews from 142 critics and an average rating of 4.88 out of 10. The site's general consensus is, "Despite a timely topic and a pair of heavyweight leads, Extraordinary Measures never feels like much more than a made-for-TV tearjerker."[13] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 0–100 reviews from film critics, has a rating score of 45 based on 33 reviews.[14] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[15]

Richard Corliss of Time magazine wrote: "Fraser keeps the story anchored in reality. Meredith Droeger does too: as the Crowleys' afflicted daughter, she's a smart little bundle of fighting spirit. So is the movie, which keeps its head while digging into your heart. You have this critic's permission to cry in public."[16] The New York Times' A. O. Scott said in his review: "The startling thing about Extraordinary Measures is not that it moves you. It's that you feel, at the end, that you have learned something about the way the world works."[17]

Ramona Bates MD, writing for the health news organisation, EmaxHealth, stated that the film brings attention to Pompe disease.[18] Peter Rainer from The Christian Science Monitor mentions that Big Pharma got a surprisingly free pass in the film and that it will come as a surprise to all those sufferers struggling to get orphan drugs developed.[19]

Jef Akst, writing for the journal The Scientist, stated that the film is good depiction of the "hard to swallow fiscal issues of drug development."[20]

Box office

The film opened at #8 on its opening weekend, taking in $6 million. The film remained in theaters for four weeks, earning $12 million.


  1. ^ Goodridge, Mike (January 21, 2010). "Extraordinary Measures". Screen International. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  2. ^ "CBS Films hooks up with Sony". Variety. November 17, 2009. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Extraordinary Measures (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  4. ^ "'Extraordinary Measures,' filmed in Portland and starring Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford, opens Friday". The Oregonian. Advance Publications. January 21, 2010. Archived from the original on September 23, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  5. ^ "On the 'Crowley' set: Boredom, action and a bit of politics". The Oregonian. Advance Publications. June 2, 2009. Archived from the original on October 6, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Roger Ebert (January 20, 2010). Extraordinary Measures. Sun Times. Accessed 2011-08-01.
  7. ^ A. O. Scott (January 22, 2010). "Desperate Father's Plea to a Detached Scientist". NY Times.
  8. ^ Jef Akst (January 22, 2010). "A review of Extraordinary Measures". The Scientist NewsBlog.
  9. ^ "Proprietary Glycoprotein Technology Platform Will Advance Lysosomal Storage Disorder Programs". prnewswire.com. Archived from the original on May 9, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  10. ^ "FAQs". genzyme.com. Archived from the original on January 25, 2010.
  11. ^ ""Extraordinary Measures" Father Coming to Norfolk " The Health Journal: Fitness, Nutrition, Wellness". Thehealthjournals.com. Archived from the original on March 28, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  12. ^ "Research Divisions". Ibms.sinica.edu.tw. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  13. ^ "Extraordinary Measures (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  14. ^ "Extraordinary Measures: Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  15. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  16. ^ Corliss, Richard (February 1, 2010). "Extraordinary Measures: Sentiment Makes a Comeback". Time. Archived from the original on January 25, 2010.
  17. ^ Scott, A. O. (January 22, 2010). "Desperate Father's Plea to a Detached Scientist". The New York Times.
  18. ^ EmaxHealth. ""Extraordinary Measures" Brings Attention Pompe Disease".
  19. ^ Peter Rainer (January 22, 2010). "Extraordinary Measures Movie Review".
  20. ^ "A review of Extraordinary Measures".