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"Elizabethtown" Movie Review

Cameron Crowe's Latest is Nothing to Crow About

By

Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst star in

Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst in "Elizabethtown"

© Paramount Pictures
“Elizabethtown” is a cute movie. Not cute as in fluffy kittens romping through flowers in the spring, but cute as in precious bordering on nauseatingly sweet. This Cameron Crowe relationship saga is bogged down in a mire of sugary sweetness that isn’t as much heartwarming as it is just plain tedious.

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 they’re boxed in by an assortment of bits that don’t 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 Drew’s big project turns out to be the worst thing that’s ever happened to shoes in the history of the industry, Drew’s 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 there’s some kind of thing going on between his mom and his relatives in Kentucky, it’s 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). Claire’s 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 doesn’t seem to have a whole lot in common with.

When Bloom and Dunst are at their best as the film’s romantic leads is when they’re 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 Bloom’s mother and sister, respectively. Both women are good despite the fact neither character is ever really fleshed out. Sarandon’s got one truly weird scene where she does a stand-up comedy routine at her husband’s memorial. That’s 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 Bloom’s cousins and steals this film away from the bigger name stars. Schneider’s the one character in the film we actually get to know on more than just a surface level. And when his character’s 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 doesn’t 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 Bloom’s 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 wasn’t 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 didn’t 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.

GRADE: C

"Elizabethtown" was directed by Cameron Crowe and is rated PG-13 for language and some sexual references.

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