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Mother and child reunion in ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ misses the mark



Starring: , ,
Directed By:
MPAA Rating:
Release Date: December 25, 2011
Length: 129 minutes




Total Score
7.3/ 10



Max von Sydow does a credible job of communicating emotion without speaking in this touching tale.


Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close doesn’t have a lead character with whom you can identify.

Bottom Line

While the brash and precocious kid at the center of this story is hurting and might be borderline autistic, it’s still not always easy to sympathize with him.

Posted January 27, 2012 by

Full Review

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has drawn comparisons to Hugo, the Martin Scorsese flick just nominated for a slew of Academy Award nominations.  Like Hugo, Loud was also just nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Unlike Hugo, which also features a young boy as its central character, Extremely Loud doesn’t have a lead character with whom you can identify.

Based on a Jonathan Safran Foer novel, Extremely Loud stars Thomas Horn as semi-autistic Oskar Schell, a young boy whose father, Thomas (Tom Hanks), dies in September 11th’s World Trade Center attacks. Oskar was close to his dad and this sudden and unexpected passing proves nearly debilitating. Oskar, who already has difficulty connecting with most of the world, finds it difficult to connect with his well-intentioned and loving mother (Sandra Bullock), who is also grieving.

While rummaging through his father’s closet, Oskar finds a key he believes his father has left for him. The two would often embark on scavenger hunts, and Oskar takes it as some kind of clue. Noticing the name Black is on the envelope containing the key, Oskar gets New York phonebooks and starts visiting everyone he can find with that surname. Eventually, one such person, Abby (Viola Davis), introduces Oskar to her ex-husband (Jeffrey Wright), who helps the young boy unravel the mystery.

In one of the film’s subplots, Oskar befriends “The Renter” (Max von Sydow), an old man who is living with Oskar’s grandmother. Although “The Renter” doesn’t speak, he can hear and communicates with hand signals and notes he scribbles on a pad. The two travel through the boroughs of New York as they search for the person to whom the key belongs, unraveling details about that fateful day along the way.

The majority of this film’s plot revolves around Oskar, a brash and precocious young boy who hurls nasty insults at the doorman (John Goodman) of his building and, at one point, even tells his own mother he wishes she had died in the terrorist attack. Nice. While the kid might be borderline autistic, that doesn’t make it any easier to sympathize with him. And while Horn, a Jeopardy contestant turned child actor, is decent in the role, veteran actors Hanks and Bullock don’t get much screen time. Even von Sydow, who does a credible job of communicating emotion without speaking, doesn’t have a major role, making us wonder if that nomination is really justified.


Sam is live-music -loving vegetarian communications professional with an entertainment, travel and tourism background. A restless soul, Sam believes in getting out there and doing things because you only go around once but knows she could benefit from a little more sleep. Give her a reason to see a movie, catch a concert or explore a new destination at [email protected].


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