by Rick Grant
Robert Nelson Jacobs’ screenplay adaptation of Geeta Anand’s nonfiction book “The Cure….” is a straight forward telling of this true-life, feel-good story. Director, Tom Vaughan, shot this film in a TV movie style, (It’s CBS, so what did I expect?) which works to effectively play on the emotions of the movie audience.
The scenario is about a father, John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) who devotes his spare time to finding a cure for a rare genetic disease that has afflicted two of his children, Megan and Patrick, called Pompe disease (similar to MD). Their life expectancy is only about 9 years.
The disease causes the heart and other vital organs to swell because they lack a certain enzyme in their blood. Fortunately for the family, John has an executive position at a large pharmaceutical firm and his insurance is paying the $40,000 a month for the care of his dying children.
John doesn’t want to accept the inevitability that Megan and Patrick are dying. He spends his nights researching Pompe disease on the internet hoping to find a scientist who is close to finding a cure.
Meanwhile John’s wife, Aileen (Keri Russell) is stoic in the face of this tragic family crisis. Aileen tries to provide a normal household environment and keep her kids happy under such unhappy circumstances. It’s debatable whether or not Keri Russell over-played Aileen’s perky personality. I give her the benefit of the doubt. People handle stress differently.
In his quest to find a cure for his children, John stumbles across a paper written by an obscure medical research scientist, Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford) who works in a lab on the University of Nebraska campus. Stonehill has isolated an enzyme that may at least cure the symptoms of Pompe and allow kids stricken with the disease to live relatively normal lives up into their old age.
However, Dr. Stonehill is an obnoxious misanthrope who is almost impossible to reach by phone. So John travels to Nebraska to find him at a local watering hole where he approaches Stonehill about his situation.
Harrison Ford overplays Dr. Stonehill’s angy old coot attitude. He is downright rude to John, but he finally tells him about the progress he has made. He is confident with enough funding he can produce an enzyme that will extend the lives of Pompe in children.
Dr. Stonehill whines about everything, especially the fact that he is grossly underfunded and needs $500 grand to do the proper research to get the drug into clinical trials. John tells him he will raise the money through his Pompe foundation, even though the foundation didn’t exist before John approached Dr. Stonehill.
Thus begins a shaky alliance between John and Dr. Stonehill. John is a brilliant Harvard educated businessman and Dr. Stonehill is a brilliant scientist. But, Stonehill is impossible to work with and alienates anyone he encounters in regard to his research.
When John and Dr. Stonehill’s private company eats up their capital, their venture capitalist tells them they have to sell out to a drug company and continue to work through them.
Much drama ensues as Dr. Stonehill butts heads with the suits at the drug company. John acts as a peacemaker and spends the last half of the movie trying to muzzle Dr. Stonehill and get the life saving drug on the market to help his kids and the other sufferers of the disease. It’s an uphill struggle, and many obstacles stand in his way, especially Dr. Stonehill.
The story boils down to the big soulless corporation versus the desperate parents and their dying kids. Overall, the picture drags and manipulates the viewers emotions but it is worth viewing.