Saturday, January 23, 2010

The H-Man at his pointiest

It was not a great decade for Harrison Ford.

Charitably, you could say he just chose not to work very much, a luxury allowed by his massive accumulation of wealth. After all, he didn't have a single feature released in four different calendar years: 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2007. That was definitely his own choice, not any kind of external condemnation of his marketability.

Uncharitably, you could say that he didn't try very hard. That he mailed in a bunch of movies, only the first of which was received somewhat well: What Lies Beneath (2000), K19: The Widowmaker (2002), Hollywood Homicide (2003), Firewall (2006), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) and Crossing Over (2009). You could also surmise that he was looking to Crystal Skull to revive his viability as a box office force, and though it certainly made its money, the poor critical reception had to sting.

Well, it's a new decade, and the H-Man is back on the scene in just its first few weeks, doing what he does best: pointing.

I'm not sure if there are actually any moments in the trailers for Extraordinary Measures, which opens today, in which Ford gets all up in someone's face and whips out that famous index finger. But it certainly seems like the kind of movie where he might do a lot of pointing, doesn't it?

Ford lines from the trailer that could definitely inspire a good finger wag:

"You're going to tell me, you're not going to ask me?!?"

"I already work around the clock!"

"No one is gonna tell me how to run my lab!"

And wait! There it is! On that last one, he actually points!


Not that you shouldn't point, as an actor. Just that Ford has made it into an art, and probably, eventually, a crutch. What we're really saying is that he's good at delivering an angry, accusatory pronouncement. And why wouldn't you raise a lecturing finger when doing that?

I knew Ford's tendency to point was something my friends and I were aware of. In messing around a little on Google, however, I've discovered it's a full-fledged phenomenon. I found a bunch of other isolated images of Harrison Ford and his famous index finger -- he uses the left one and the right one alternately -- including:

And, given its own title card:

And, given its own collage:

I'm having a little fun at Ford's expense, but he should have the last laugh, because I've discovered that I actually sort of want to see Extraordinary Measures. Medical dramas about doctors "already working around the clock" to cure incurable diseases are a dime a dozen, but there's something about this one that strikes me.

Maybe it's the A-list cast, if you still want to include Ford in the A-list, along with an A- Brendan Fraser and a B+ Keri Russell. Or maybe it really is that Ford and all his pointing, presumed or otherwise, have given those trailers a little bit of electricity that makes the movie seem like it could be a truly tense experience.

I won't see it in theaters, but don't be surprised if I end up ranking it on my 2010 list about a year from now. If I do, that'll mean only one fewer Harrison Ford film I'll have seen this decade than last.

Point, Ford.

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