Directed by Cameron Crowe, stars Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, Jessica Biel, Alec Baldwin, Bruce McGill and Paul Schneider.
Cameron Crowe's creation 'Elizabethtown' is a quirky, odd sort of movie. It has both romance and tragedy, delving into the mindset of some very mixed-up individuals over the course of the story.
Orlando Bloom is Drew Baylor – a failed shoe designer, whose flop design, the Spasmotica, has just cost his employers $972m and him his job. Fed up, jobless and dumped by his on-off girlfriend Ellen (Biel), Drew decides that his life is no longer worth living. So, after disposing of all his earthly belongings, he puts his design skills to use to create the ultimate killing machine. But just as he is about to end his own life a phonecall changes everything.
The death of his father means that Drew is now the only male left to hold his family together and with his crazy tap-dancing mum Hollie (Sarandon) and his weepy sister Heather (Greer) to attend to, he decides to postpone his suicide – but only until after he has travelled to his father's birthplace of Elizabethtown, Kentucky to take him home for the final time.
But small towns have a way of getting in on you and when Drew meets the other people in his father's life he is bowled over by the impact one person can have upon a community. And then there's Claire (Dunst) - the eccentric, quirky and slightly annoying air hostess that he meets en route to Elizabethtown. Energetic to a fault and full of creativity, Claire's world is filled with fantasy and she is determined to make Drew see that he needs her in his life, if he decides to live it.
What brings this film down in parts are recurring thoughts of what it could have been. Cameron Crowe was responsible for the likes of 'Almost Famous' and the hilarious 'Jerry Maguire' (whose star Tom Cruise produces this time around), and when compared 'Elizabethtown' is found lacking. As a stand-alone film, though, it's not awful. There are some nice moments of gentle comedy, and some very interesting characters, notably air hostess Claire and Drew's rocker cousin Jessie (Schneider), but you just get the feeling that certain opportunities have been missed and perhaps a few too many clichés have been thrown in. Having said that, there's always something slightly addictive about the characters that Crowe creates. Needy and all-over-the-place, they demand attention and inevitably keep you interested, absorbing you in their stories, however unorthodox.
Bloom, however, seems smothered by the weight that his character Drew carries on his shoulders. You want to believe his personal dilemmas but he's not quite convincing enough. You watch his pathetic, half-hearted attempt to kill himself and are glad of his rescuing phonecall, but there are very little other salvations in store for him as the movie progresses. Dunst, for her part, does quirky wonderfully and really adds the feelgood factor to the movie, hitting home the message of 'somebody for everybody', no matter how off-the-wall they may seem. Sarandon too is effective, in a crazed way, as Drew's unhinged mother, who cannot accept her husband's death and will go to any lengths to escape from the truth, but perhaps lays it on a bit thick at the comical remembrance service. In the end, it is the various characters of Elizabethtown, though each merely passing through, that maintain a busy vibe in the film, picking up the pace when a lull descends.
Not for everyone granted, but if you're into cheesy chick flicks where love conquers all then 'Elizabethtown' is just that. With comedy that is subtle and a plot line that demands little brainpower, it's easy viewing and there are certainly worse things a film could be. But then again... maybe you have to be from a small town to get the full effect of what Crowe was trying to do with this.