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.
HOLLYWOOD, MAKE A GOOD MOVIE. STOP MAKING PIECES OF CRAP.
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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