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Movie Review: Elizabethtown

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If you’re wondering if Elizabethtown is as boring and pointless as its ads; it is. It’s impossible to believe that the same Cameron Crowe who gave us Almost Famous produced Elizabethtown. I was wondering if he’s had a stroke. He should get a workup by a specialist and have any medications checked. Something is seriously, seriously wrong with his brain. This movie is terrible. It looked like it was made by a brain-damaged high school student trying to imitate Sofia Coppola.

Orlando Bloom plays a shoe designer whose failed product cost his company a billion dollars. Apparently, they only manufacture a billion dollars worth of shoes at a time and they either sink or swim. The cold gray scenes at his workplace resemble those minimalist movies where the bosses speak in ominous gibberish and you don’t know who to trust. The movie is so turbid that when he leaves the building, I don’t even know if he’s been fired or not. When he goes home to his gray minimalistic apartment, the movie switches to a variant of this type of movie, the sudden brutality version. In keeping with the new ethic, he invents a creepy suicide machine out of a knife and a piece of exercise equipment. We are forced to look at the knife stabbing the air over and over. The movie switches genres again when he gets a call telling him that his father has died. At that point the movie becomes a botched human drama where characters you are supposed to like are bizarre and inhuman. When Bloom’s character has to go across country to deal with his father’s death, his mother and sister see him off at the airport as casually as if they were sending him on a business trip.

The movie unfolds in this tone-deaf way for more than two hours. Susan Sarandon plays the deceased man’s wife. About a day after her husband dies, her character inexplicably takes up organic cooking, tap dancing and fixing cars. Orlando Bloom’s character regards his dead father lying in a coffin with a detached curiosity that is downright creepy. Susan Sarandon’s character takes the stage at her husband’s funeral to give an inexplicable speech about her new hobbies and her neighbor’s erection. The crowd, composed of her husband’s relatives, laughs and applauds. To top it all off, she does a bad tap-dance to “Moon River.” No, I did not make that up. In case you think this was campy, it wasn‘t. You can’t even enjoy it on that level.

In between the botched human drama, the movie becomes a failed romantic comedy. Kirsten Dunst plays the love interest, a loopy stewardess who spouts horrible dialog. The romantic subplot closely resembles The Truth About Cats & Dogs, down to the phone conversation. It was done much better in the earlier movie. There is your romantic comedy scene with the girl and the guy goofing around in a store, only this time, it’s a funeral urn store. Laffs! Then there was the scene where the girl kicks off her shoes and runs around in the grass to show how high-spirited she is, only here it’s in a graveyard. Kirsten Dunst’s character is such a kicky, romantic comedy girl that she can’t help running and giggling among the headstones as Bloom’s character contemplates where to bury his father. Har!

The portrayal of small town life in Kentucky was the one good thing about this movie. It rings true, and those actors do a good job. I understand that Cameron Crowe’s father was from a town like this and that the movie was partly about based on true events. Unless you are from this kind of place yourself, you would not want to sit through this movie. Even then, I’d wait to rent it. You’ll probably want to fast forward through the other scenes.

The soundtrack was too loud during the opening credits and whenever there was music. Whenever I complain about movie sound levels, I’m told that they are set by the studios, so bad on you, Paramount.

I can’t accuse the Elizabethtown of false advertising because the ad and the clip that I saw were as bad as the movie itself. It was my desperation that led me there. The movie choices for intelligent people this weekend were this and Everything Is Illuminated, whose ending is supposed to resemble “Ingmar Bergman’s darkest hours.” Oh sweet Jesus.


I am handing out a rap on the knuckles to Susan Sarandon, Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst for being in this movie when they had other choices. The script had to suck. It was a time to say, bring me back a good script or I’m out of this. We’ve all got to work together to stop the procession of stink bombs that the movie industry is dropping on us.

QUESTIONABLE REVIEW ALERT: Ebert and Roeper gave Elizabethtown two thumbs up. I find that to be insupportable.


Question for discussion: What is your favorite Cameron Crowe movie?


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About Cerulean

  • S

    Wasn’t this movie already done in garden state?

    Boy comes home for a parent’s death and finds and falls in love with a quirky girl…

  • Good point, it seemed to have been made with recycled parts.

  • More curious dealings. A news index only lists one review of Elizabethtown, a positive one from from a small town newspaper. It’s amateurishly written. Here’s a quote: “No matter the celebration or pain, Crowe’s interplay with the quirky characters cements the bliss of “Elizabethtown.”


    Well, cement my bliss.

    My own title here used to say “Elizabethtown Is A Terrible Movie” but now it just says, “Movie Review: Elizabethtown” Why?

    What gives?

  • More hard to believe reviews, The TV ad for Elizabethtown quoted Mike Wilber of NBC-TV giving it four stars. They also quoted Don Harper of Good News TV as saying it was “The Date-Night Movie Of The Year.”

    The lettering of the names of both reviewers were hard to read in spite of the fact that I have a large screen TV. I’m not sure of the spelling, although I looked at the frames many times. I can’t find online confirmation of the quotes, but that doesn’t prove anything.

  • uao

    –Don Hildercrest

    “Bring the children!”
    –Mary Stolz
    The Weekend Movie Guide

    “A must see!”
    –Martin Hennesy
    Filmgoers Weekly

    “Enthralling…an edge of the seat thriller!”
    –Lucy Cruz
    Popcorn! magazine

    re: comment 4

    An old trick in this burg is to put bogus reviewers’ names in the ads of turkeys with gushing blurbs attributed to them. These “critics” are attributed to phoney shows and publications.

    Eventually, SONY or someone got busted for this practice a couple of years ago (Hollywood had been doing this pretty much since the early days, in one form or another)

    I don’t know if the studios still make up bogus names, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do; after all, it’s tradition.

    Insofar as they don’t, I’ve seen plenty of famous hacks like Gene Shalit sat things like “Fabulous!” or “Magnificent!” or “Action Movie of the Year!”. And lesser-known hacks for local TV stations in markets like Fresno, Omaha, or Indianapolis.

  • Anonymous

    This movie isn’t as horrible as you exaggerate it to be.

    You act as if someone can’t look at their dead father with detached curiosity, as if a mother and a sister can’t casually send off their son/brother to retrieve his father’s body.

    Many of the things you describe as “inexplicably” aren’t at all inexplicable. Not everyone acts a certain way when misfortune hits. And that’s what I like about this movie. The characters deal with this one man’s death in different ways. These characters actually have personality unlike the millions of extremely predictable characters in every other movie. The characters in other movies are all the same. They cry for a family member’s death no matter how unfamiliar a family member is. They sink themselves deep in reclusion, crying and refusing to eat because of such death. The characters react the way they’re typically “supposed” to react: the reaction Hollywood sticks into their numerous sappy films. Those movies fail to consider the vast range of emotions and reactions people have to trauma.

    So why not be detached when a family member dies? Why not dance in memory of a deceased loved one? Why not learn to live life from some quirky flight attendant met in an airplane flight? Why not invent some crazy suicide machine, then suddenly decide not to kill yourself after hearing your sister cry about your lost father on the phone? Why not applaud a woman pouring out her heart in a not-so-perfect tap dance, while everyone else applauds? Why not?

    It is the characters’ abilities to build up and eventually pour out their sentiments in their seemingly insignificant and strange actions that allow this movie to be different. Sure, some things the characters do aren’t ordinary. But such deviance from the norm is what makes this movie so good.

  • Cameron? No, seriously, that was well-written. I could see how perhaps he had wanted to portray what you described. For me, it came off so poorly that it just didn’t work, but apparently it did for you and some others. It’s true that the stereotypical reactions in Hollywood movies are not necessarily what happens in real life.

  • mrtnn

    I have to say that I’ve lost respect for Cameron Crowe after this near unwatchable film. It’s an embarrassment for all concerned. Was it a case of everyone being so coked up that no one had the guts to tell him, “Hey, this script is awful.”?

    Kristen Dunst is so forecefully perky I wanted to puke.
    Orlando Bloom is wrong for the character (if there is one) also.

    Give me these two hours of my life back!!!!!!