Elizabethtown

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Elizabethtown
Review (6.5/10)
(By Liam Cullin)

I am a diehard supporter of Cameron Crowe. While waiting in line to see Elizabethtown, there were throngs of teenage (and not-so-teenage) girls there to see Orlando Bloom. There were even a couple of dudes trying to check out Kirsten Dunst. But me, I was there to see Cameron Crowe. He is, in my mind, one of the most brilliant filmmakers out there today. So, it would be an understatement to say that I was looking forward to Elizabethtown.

Elizabethtown tells the story of Drew Baylor, a shoe designer who designs the world's worst shoe and causes his company (headed by Alec Baldwin) to lose just a little short of a billion dollars. On the heels of this colossal failure (or fiasco as it's called in the movie) Drew comes up with an inventive and comical way to off himself to save himself the embarrassment of living 1 second longer. However, his life is saved by a phone call from his sister telling him that their father died while visiting family in Elizabethtown. So, rather than dying himself, Drew must drag his sorry ass to Kentucky to collect his father and prepare for the funeral. While on the airplane to Louisville (pronounced Lou-uh-vul) enroute to Elizabethtown Drew meets a quirky stewardess (is it politically correct to call them that anymore?) named Claire (Kirsten Dunst) who figures prominently in the rest of the movie. Once he makes his way to Elizabethtown, Drew reconnects with his father's side of the family, all with different ideas of how to handle the funeral. (Burial or cremation, etc...) Since Drew himself is lost in his own failure, he's not quite sure what to do. Desparate for somebody to talk to, he calls Claire and the two share an all-night telephone call discussing everything under the sun (or the moon in this case) before they finally meet. From here, the movie becomes all about Drew and Claire's budding romance and Drew's learning a thing or two about his family and himself while coming to terms with his own shortcomings and failures.

The only concensus with this one seems to be that Cameron Crowe is just incredible at finding the right mix of music for his movies. If he weren't a writer/director, he'd probably have a job somewhere making mixed tapes and CDs for people - and he'd be making a killing. Granted from what I've read the movie we saw at the Toronto Film Festival wasn't a final cut but, in terms of what we did see, there have been mixed reactions ranging from "great" to "the magic just doesn't seem to be there this time around". For example, I saw this movie with someone who's father died in the last couple of years. In her opinion, the movie was just incredible. She could relate to the characters and it helped her in some ways come to terms with the death of her own father. But I didn't get that. Instead, I found that it rambled, it was overlong and it easily could've done without some of the side-plots. (Deleted scenes - that's what DVDs are for.) When introducing the movie, Crowe readily admitted that the movie was in part about his own father. This is probably why some of the less-than-stellar scenes and plots were so difficult to leave on the cutting room floor. The movie wasn't a complete mess, but if the movie is to be a success, it needs to be done. (A lot of people I've talked to point specifically to the Susan Sarandon tap-dancing scene as one that needs to go. I honestly liked this scene but felt it needed to be a lot shorter.)

If I had one other complaint about this movie, it'd be the the lead actors. In the past, casting on Crowe's movies has been perfect. This time around, I just didn't like it. Orlando Bloom as a leading man just doesn't work for me. And Kirsten Dunst? Something about her in this movie just didn't click. And if you can't buy into the two lead characters, how are you supposed to enjoy the movie?

I like Cameron Crowe. I love Cameron Crowe. If he were to make a movie about a flaming paper bag of poo, I'd still buy a ticket. If (as we're being told) the movie is still a work in progress then I just might check it out again when it hits theaters to see what edits were made. It's a good movie and, with some trimming, it just might be great. Otherwise, I'll just try write this one off and hope Crowe's next is a little less self-indulgent.

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