While many movies require a healthy suspension of disbelief for pure enjoyment’s sake, what’s essentially an ambitious treasure hunt in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is nothing short of unsettling when common sense inevitably kicks in. Whether you’re a parent or not, you can’t help being concerned for this poor kid’s safety when he’s instantly trusting of everyone he meets—and walking into their homes without a care in the world.

At times, it gets so ridiculous that you can’t help wondering where in the world his mom is and even half expect the filmmakers to put a “Remember this is fiction. Do not attempt!” warning somewhere on the screen. Thankfully, someone does eventually join Oskar on the search, but more than anything, you’re just thankful one of the Blacks wasn’t a serial killer.

That major leap of logic aside, there’s still plenty about Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close that’s genuinely moving. Even more than 10 years after 9/11, people are still mourning and trying to make sense of the senseless tragedy, and the film never shies away from just how difficult that can be. But if one theme emerges supreme in the sad, sad story, it’s that people all grieve differently and need genuine support from their fellow man in the process.


  • Drugs/Alcohol: Glasses of wine are shown but not consumed. Another character attempts to hide the alcohol he was drinking once Oskar shows up.
  • Language/Profanity: A singular use of a--.  Sh-- is used twice, plus there are a couple of instances where God’s name is taken in vain. Oskar and the doorman also hurl insults at each other that often sound a lot like expletives but actually aren’t.
  • Sex/Nudity: No sex or nudity. One of the people Oskar visits is a man who dresses in women’s clothing. A rude joke involving the male anatomy.
  • Violence: Numerous shots of what happened during 9/11—smoking skyscrapers and the fall of the Twin Towers. Oskar has pictures of people falling from the towers and believes one of them is his father. Oskar often takes his grief out on himself by self-injuring. He pinches himself so hard that he’s left with red marks all over his torso. Sometimes his grief turns to anger and he’ll throw things around, rip papers to shreds and not treat people, especially his mother, in a respectful fashion. In fact, he tells her he wished it was her in the tower instead of his father. When talking to the mysterious Renter, he confesses that he worries about doing something “bad” to himself.
  • Religion/Morals: Scripture is read at Oskar’s father’s funeral, which incidentally, Oskar believes is a waste of time since the coffin is empty. During one of his visits to people with the last name “Black,” a group of people lay their hands on him and pray for him to be safe and in God’s loving arms. Oskar says he doesn’t believe in miracles and has a hard time reconciling belief in anything that doesn’t make sense. Oskar’s mom underscores how terrible things like 9/11 often don’t make sense. Oskar lies repeatedly to his Mom and people around him and even keeps track of his untruths. 

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blogFor more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.