After the first 15 or so minutes of the movie, Crowe inserts a check out just how darling we can be tone into every single remaining frame of Elizabethtown. Granted there are a few good moments, a few scenes that do work splendidly and generate real laughs. But theyre boxed in by an assortment of bits that dont seem to fit and appear to have been inserted for one specific line of dialogue or to cue a song Crowe really wanted to use.
Orlando Bloom, best known for his prowess with a bow and arrow as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, takes the lead in Elizabethtown as up-and-coming shoe designer Drew Baylor. When Drews big project turns out to be the worst thing thats ever happened to shoes in the history of the industry, Drews way of dealing with the failure is to try and commit suicide. On the verge of offing himself, Drew gets a call from his mom and sister letting him know his dad has died while visiting relatives in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
Because theres some kind of thing going on between his mom and his relatives in Kentucky, its left up to Drew to go to Elizabethtown, get his dad cremated, and bring him home to Oregon. Along the way Drew meets a pretty, talkative and disgustingly optimistic flight attendant named Claire (Kirsten Dunst). Claires quickly taken in by the introverted Drew, even though he says all of 10 words to her while on her flight. Nevertheless, she passes him her phone number which he proceeds to dial soon after meeting his gregarious cousins and other assorted relatives.
The rest of Elizabethtown features Drew connecting with his long lost relatives, discovering just who his dad really was, having to decide between cremation and burial, and falling in love with the girl he just met and doesnt seem to have a whole lot in common with.
When Bloom and Dunst are at their best as the films romantic leads is when theyre not together in the same scene. Their relationship over the phone works better than their chemistry does when they show up onscreen as a couple.
Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer co-star as Blooms mother and sister, respectively. Both women are good despite the fact neither character is ever really fleshed out. Sarandons got one truly weird scene where she does a stand-up comedy routine at her husbands memorial. Thats about the most we see of Sarandon and her act is the only way we get any insight into her character.
Paul Schneider plays one of Blooms cousins and steals this film away from the bigger name stars. Schneiders the one character in the film we actually get to know on more than just a surface level. And when his characters band takes the stage at the memorial, Elizabethtown has its absolute best moment. A flaming bird flying above the audience, then crashing into mourners and causing the sprinkler system to go off, is by far the best scene of the film.
Crowe doesnt appear to have known when and where to stop Elizabethtown. The end of the film follows Bloom on a cross-country roadtrip in which he stops at a few notable American landmarks, including the Oklahoma City National Memorial and the National Civil Rights Museum in which parts of the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated are housed. By the time Crowe has Blooms character set off on this bizarre odyssey, you just want to pack it in. The movie should have ended way before it does, yet for some reason Crowe seems to have felt it wasnt too late in the film to insert a message that fairly slams the audience over the head. The weird thing is, I liked the roadtrip but just didnt feel like it fit in the movie. On its own it would have made for a fairly entertaining short film.
Elizabethtown tries to be and do too much and never really goes anywhere. Even fans of Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst or Cameron Crowe may have a hard time swallowing this disappointingly average film.
"Elizabethtown" was directed by Cameron Crowe and is rated PG-13 for language and some sexual references.