03 June 2011

2 June - "Don't expect to be making any friends"

Elizabethtown (2005)
dir. Cameron Crowe (Say Anything..., 1989)

Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003)
Kirsten Dunst (Marie Antoinette, 2006)
Susan Sarandon (The Witches of Eastwick, 1987)
Alec Baldwin (It's Complicated, 2009)
Judy Greer (Love and Other Drugs, 2010)
Bruce McGill (Collateral, 2004)
Jessica Biel (Valentine's Day, 2010)
Loudon Wainwright III (Knocked Up, 2007)
Paula Deen
Ted Manson (Fried Green Tomatoes, 1991)

Drew Baylor (Bloom) gets fired from his job and attempts suicide, only to have his sister (Greer) call at the last moment and tell him that their father has died and that he must go to Elizabethtown (title drop!), Kentucky to see to the funeral arrangements. En route Drew meets stewardess Claire (Dunst) and then later they have a phone call and fall in love. Things work out well with the folksy southern family and Drew decides that life is worth living after all.

While there's nothing I could precisely pinpoint as unpleasant in this movie, it still fails to stand out in any enjoyable way. I expect that in a week or so I'll have forgotten the storyline altogether, except that the romance between Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom was very, very contrived. It was certainly a charming movie, with quaint characters, but it neither stood out as a romantic comedy, although it certainly elements of such, nor as a narrative of self-actualization, a young man coming into his own, which is certainly a common and always poignant theme in cinema (Like Big Fish, or the always relevant Star Wars). I could not enjoy it as a dark comedy nor as a family drama (Such as in The Squid and the Whale, which succeeded as both.

Instead, Elizabethtown seems to hesitate between two ends of the emotional spectrum, and in so doing fails to make an impact on either front. To emphasize a belabored point, the two highlights of the movie were the interaction between Drew and Chuck, the perceptively wasted groom getting married in the same hotel, and the flashback scenes to Drew's childhood memories of his father as he is beginning his drive back to Oregon (something about saturated photography and child-parent nostalgia always makes me teary).

It's obvious to me now why this movie receded into the background almost immediately after it's release. If you're hearing about this for the first time right now, just let it slide by you. If you're a big Orlando Bloom fan, maybe watch it if you're really curious, but honestly, he's hotter as Legolas.

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