Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Do you ever feel manipulated? Furthermore, do you feel tough enough to endure another 9/11 heart breaker? I didn't think I was...but because I am familiar with Director Stephen Daldry's work ("Billy Elliot"), I took a chance. This movie is contrived but involving and I'm sure the book by Jonathan Safran Foer on which it's based must also be contrived, so I can't blame the screenwriter Eric Roth ("Forrest Gump").

I simply trusted this cast:
  • Tom Hanks ("Toy Story 3") plays the Ward Cleaver role in this 2011 version of a 2001 "Leave it to Beaver," you know, the impossibly ideal family, with an adorable boy as the center of their universe. In this case, that boy is a little too precocious, a little too obsessed and a little too rude, at least for MY taste. Dad dies in 9/11; this is not a spoiler, you know it from the preview.
  • Sandra Bullock ("The Proposal") is the grieving mother/widow, strictly utilitarian and taken-for-granted up to the highly unlikely and illogical end, which is explained by a lengthy voiceover.
  • Thomas Horn (spotted while winning $31,000 in Teen Jeopardy), in his screen debut, is Oskar Schell, an exceptionally smart son, always challenged by his brilliant father but also the possessor of a scathing tongue. His answering machine recorded the last six phone calls from his dad before the tower collapsed on 9/11.
  • Max von Sydow ("Shutter Island") is the cryptic renter at his grandmother's house. This character figures prominently, but never says one word.
  • Viola Davis ("The Help") is one of the hundreds of people whose last name is Black with whom Oscar meets, trying to discover his father's hidden message from something that can be opened by a mysterious key.
  • John Goodman ("The Artist") is the doorman in the New York building where our family lives. He and the boy trade insults every day...but I'm not sure why.
The conclusion felt lackluster and slapped together, consequently, this movie doesn't really end, it just sort of drifts to a standstill. I realize the movie has garnered a lot of praise, but I can't see why. Now that you know what to expect, you're on your own ("YOYO" to quote a friend).
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Here is a link to a preview:
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