Extremely Loud Can Be Extremely Annoying
Critics split on emotional 9/11 movie
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2012 10:48 AM CST

(Newser) – Critics are split right down the center on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, an emotional movie about a young boy's quest to deal with his father's death on 9/11. It's currently at an even 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, drawing reviews like these:

  • "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close might have also added and Fairly Obnoxious," writes Tom Long of the Detroit News. "Mixing the horror of 9/11 with a cutesy story about a boy's unlikely quest just comes off as crass," making this "the kind of movie you want to punch in the nose."
  • "No movie has ever been able to provide a catharsis for the Holocaust, and I suspect none will ever be able to provide one for 9/11," writes Roger Ebert. Certainly this one doesn't. "This plot is contrivance and folderol." Oskar's on-foot journey through New York "is so preposterous, we're constantly aware of it as a storytelling contrivance."

  • The film is "manipulative as all get-out" in its quest to pull heartstrings, writes Bill Goodykoontz of the Arizona Republic, but he liked it anyway, thanks to star Thomas Horn. "Horn is so good … that the film resonates in spite of the tear-jerking strings Daldry pulls."
  • Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe liked it too. "The whimsy threatens early to turn lethal," he says. "You start to feel like a child, too, that something’s being kept from you, like the truth." But Max von Sydow's spectacular turn as a mute old man fixes that: "The truth about suffering and guilt and resilience … is right there in von Sydow’s face."