directed by: Cameron Crowe
Greetings audience of none! Before we dive back into our movie reviews, let’s recap the night thusfar. A lovely Friday night here at my desk as I sit typing this. I’m mildly to generally excited to tell you about my thoughts, insights, and opinions about Elizabethtown. And it wouldn’t be a Cameron Crowe movie review without oversaturating it with some music. Right now, listening to some tunes by Melody Gardot.
So how am I feeling? Well let’s see if we can pick up any clues from the narrative. Was the last to leave work tonight, which normally isn’t a problem and happens about once every couple of weeks. It’s surprising how much work gets done in a silent office building. I headed for the bathroom to change back into shorts and my thermal to get ready for the bike home. Walked downstairs and had to traverse the warehouse to get to where I left my bike. I got about 4 feet before the alarms started to go off. Great. Apparently the 2nd to last guy (who assumed he was the last one there) set the alarm for the night. Didn’t bother checking if anyone was still there? Oh, its just me. After doing my best cat burglar impression (basically retracing my steps) had to call a coworker to get the code to override the alarm. Thankfully, 80 police weren’t waiting for me when I finally got out of the building. Mostly uneventful ride home. Phew. Upon arriving home from work, I knew it was going to be a special night for someone. Candles were lit and for a split second I was like , ‘wait, is this for me?’ And then I’m like, ‘haha, yeah right’. Cut to right now. One of the bro gym teacher roommates is banging some chick in his room. Now normally I’m uncomfortable using such a vulgar turn of phrase. But this … isn’t much of anything else. Paper thin walls. Man, I need to move.
(For those of you keeping track at home, yes there exist homes in the world where in one room, one dude is banging a chick (most likely a stranger), and in another, someone is typing a review of Elizabethtown while listening to Melody Gardot to drown out sounds)
Let’s go to town.
So, I know this is a giant departure from my old reviews, but I promise I’ll move back into familiar territory soon. This viewing came about tonight from having stumbled onto this article , which I’ll get into later. The only other reference I’ve seen made to this movie is that I’m certain my sister owns it (photographic memory at its finest). And it’s Cameron Crowe. It couldn’t be that bad, right? I’m a big Say Anything fan. “Dear Diane, I’ll always be there for you. All the love in my heart, Lloyd” Best . Letter. Ever. On the flip side, I didn’t really care for Almost Famous. At all. Vanilla Sky, underrated & enjoyable. Anyways, the man’s other works is another article in itself.
Alright, Orlando Bloom is a terrible … awful … just egregiously stiff and bland actor. Honestly, it was train-wreck city from start to finish. It was so so so so so hard to overlook this. Obviously, it didn’t help that the movie revolved around him. So Elizabethtown starts with this far-fetched premise that Bloom plays this shoe designer (sounds like a fake career I would make up at a party) who loses big…somehow…on this supposedly revolutionary shoe. I’m not really certain how the economics of shoe design work, but I don’t think you’re sinking 900 million dollars into pre-production of a shoe. Honestly, where are the focus groups? Or the soft release with limited supply to create demand before you launch into full production. You know, have your early adopters. But I know, I know. I’m missing the point. Or am I? It seems like Bloom takes this to heart, as he’s ready to kill himself before he gets a phone call. Turns out his Dad just died. Okay, now you’ve created a nebulous plot. Am I supposed to be focused on his failed shoe career? His missed relationship with his father? I mean it can’t be his failed relationship with ‘I’m in the movie for 2 minutes and have terrible lines and no soul’ Jessica Biel. Anyways, he heads out to Elizabethtown, Kentucky his hometown to burn up his dead father and bring him back to Oregon. And then kill himself. Again, this doesn’t make any sense. Why delay it? Oh, I guess I should do this one thing for the sister and mother I was going screw over and leave behind anyways (being dead and all) and go and bring my estranged father who I’ve never meant to actually visit while he was alive’s ashes back.
Of course, this is where we meet Kirsten Dunst. Now having a vague Wikipedia understanding of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, I was on guard. And man, were they right. And I didn’t care. Bravo, Cameron. She exists in this film as a purely fantastical concoction of a guy’s ideal girl. Let’s analyze briefly. So Kirsten is a flight attendant, Claire. We meet her as Bloom is flying back to Kentucky. She initially pursues him, almost overpursuing him, giving him her phone number, following him off the plane, shouting after him to remember how to get to Elizabethtown. Wait, okay, scratch almost. Let’s make it blatant overpursuing him. But then, she quickly backs off and Bloom has a chance to gather himself and call her on his own terms, in his time of need. After dozing off and some humorous attempts at call-holding (2005), they end up talking for hours throughout the night on the phone. Chatting about life, their awkward yet funny surroundings, family & friends neither have met. And then they cap it off by meeting and watching the sun rise. Haha, here Crowe actually cuts through his own cheese when Claire remarks, “We peaked on the phone”. So, montages ensue, during which I almost threw my remote at the TV when I saw she packed Ryan Adams’s album Love Is Hell in her suitcase (One of my favorites). Cameron, how dare you insinuate there’s some girl that actually enjoys that album? (They play a song off it towards the end of the movie) There’s some vague resemblance of a plot/problem of cremation vs. burial, and 2 generations of fathers and sons and how to raise a kid. It was pretty much cobbled together. You were just waiting for Claire to come back into the movie. So they hem and haw at each other a bit, and then she decides that they aren’t meant for each other. Something about them being ‘substitute’ people. Don’t ask me. And you think that’s that. Honestly, I thought this was how the movie was going to end. Then it would have been very 500 Days of Summer – esque. But then … oh man, Cameron just ruins it for you. So rather than take a plane back to Oregon to return to the no job, no money, and no possession life (why go back?) , Bloom decides to take that road trip he’s always meant to take with his Dad (now just ashes). Rather, Claire gives him this “map” that’s supposed to guide him back across the country, like a scrapbook, with a ton of mix CDs, pictures, notes, maps, etc. And the route ultimately led him back to her. Holy crap. This movie would have ruined me if I had seen it in 2005. My question is, why would girls like this movie? Is it honestly just for Bloom’s looks? I mean, he has nothing to add to any conversation, his acting sucks (bears repeating) and Claire does it all while Bloom is bitching and moaning about his shoe career. He doesn’t shed a tear for the old man until he’s on the road trip and this seems like it’s more Claire’s hand in things than being sad about his Dad. I mean they resort to flashbacks when he was a kid. Ugh.
All in all, a totally unrealistic view into women, which frankly I couldn’t get enough of. She’s totally eccentric, cocky/confident, cute, and exists purely to remove Bloom from his life’s troubles. And wrapping this up, I can hear them banging again. ….Sigh.
Underrated Actors: Nice turn by Parks And Rec alum Paul Schneider and Loudon Wainwright as Bloom’s cousin and uncle, respectively. They tried, but ultimately failed, at bringing the film some semblance of an actual familial or love relationship.