"Feel free to write what you want, as I don't especially care," 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' producer Scott Rudin wrote in an email to New York Times reporter Brooks Barnes earlier this month, when asked about his newest film being Oscar bait. Barnes didn't necessarily take the super producer up on that offer, but it appears critics have. Despite a prestigious pedigree, reviews for 'Extremely Loud' have been of the savage variety. Just who wrote the meanest slam of Stephen Daldry's 9/11 drama? Let's investigate!
With just a 50 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' -- about a young boy (Thomas Horn) whose father (Tom Hanks) died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 -- has brought out a viciousness in critics the likes of which hasn't been seen since 'Jack and Jill.'
"Despite its overweening literary pretensions, 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' is about as artistically profound as those framed 3-D photos of the Twin Towers emblazoned with 'Never Forget' that are still for sale in Times Square a decade after 9/11." -- Lou Lumenick, New York Post
"Poor little Oskar! Such an adorable, pint-sized heap of neuroses. What better mouthpiece for an author, or a filmmaker, to use as a way of exploring the personal cost of a great communal tragedy. Do you get the idea that Oskar must emerge from his own teeny-tiny personal prison and, yes, embrace the world? Never has the tragedy of 9/11 been made so shrinky-dinked." -- Stephanie Zacharek, Movieline
"[I]t will always be 'too soon' for 'Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close,' which processes the immense grief of a city and a family through a conceit so nauseatingly precious that it's somehow both too literary and too sentimental, cloying yet aestheticized within an inch of its life. It's 9/11 through the eyes of a caffeinated 9-year-old Harper's contributor." -- Scott Tobias, A.V. Club
"[Thomas Horn has] an impossible role in an impossible movie that has no reason for being other than as another pop-culture palliative for a trauma it can't bear to face. In truth, 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' isn't about Sept. 11. It's about the impulse to drain that day of its specificity and turn it into yet another wellspring of generic emotions: sadness, loneliness, happiness. This is how kitsch works. It exploits familiar images, be they puppies or babies -- or, as in the case of this movie, the twin towers -- and tries to make us feel good, even virtuous, simply about feeling. And, yes, you may cry, but when tears are milked as they are here, the truer response should be rage." -- Manhola Dargis, New York Times
Yikes. Which critic was the meanest? Probably Manhola, who pans 'Incredibly Close' in such an expert way that her slam sneaks up on you. Kudos, however, to all the participants.
'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' is out in limited release on Christmas; it hits theaters nationwide in January.