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Elizabethtown

Not Worth Visiting

Directed and written by Cameron Crowe, Elizabethtown is an indulgent venture that misses its intended mark, whatever that may be. Like the road trip its protagonist takes at the very end, the film is a meandering trek full of unscheduled pit stops and annoying traveling companions that do nothing but waste gas.

Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) is a workaholic athletic shoe designer whose screw up has just lost his Nike-esque company nearly 1 billion dollars. "I cry a lot lately", his boss Phil informs him right before giving him the can. After he gives away all his worldly yuppie goods and constructs a machine for stabbing himself to death (it fails miserably, much like the movie itself), his hysterical sister, Heather (Judy Greer), calls informing him that their father has suddenly passed away while visiting family back in Kentucky. Of course, Drew being the older, more responsible sibling has to make the trip out there in order to deal with the arrangements (read: deal with all the crazy relatives).

If only he could have made that trip in total silence. The movie would have been so much better if Bloom wasn't allowed to utter any lines. Alas, this was not the case. On the flight over, Drew meets a peppy yet overbearing airline hostess named Claire (Kirsten Dunst) who is half-stalker, half-mothering hen. She gives him directions on how to get to his family's home and then becomes his love interest. In any other movie she would have been an extra with a few lines, but not in Elizabethtown. When Drew finally arrives, his cousin Jessie greets him and informs him that, "This loss will be met by a hurricane of love." And a level 5 hurricane it is. Drew gets caught up in a sea of long lost relatives while trying to deal with the death of his father, the ruination of his career, and the loss of a recent love.

The plot takes many weird turns and shortcuts creating a convoluted, over saturated storyline. The dialogue is stunted and off and makes you feel as if you are being forced to watch an acting class blunder through their end of the term performance. And just when a character seems to have any promise, like that of Alec Baldwin as Drew's former boss Phil and Paul Schneider as Drew's Kentucky kin Jessie, they are swept away and drowned by the rest of the churning story.

Judy Greer who has been great in every two-bit role I've ever seen her in (13 Going On 30, The Wedding Planner) is a total nut job here who can't deliver a significant performance of any value. The same with Susan Sarandon; her character, Drew's mother, just did not make a lick of sense. She was the worst widow in the history of widows, and Dunst's character is a cheap rip-off of Natalie Portman as Sam in Garden State.

Moreover, Bloom and Dunst's relationship is so unbelievable it's like spying on two people on a failing blind date who put on big smiles, laugh a little too loudly and stumble their way to the check. Has Orlando Bloom cast a spell on every director in Hollywood? Why do they keep giving him these roles? Yes, he's eyecandy but he cannot act to save his life. Bloom does a horrible American accent, which wouldn't have been so bad if half the movie wasn't done in voice-over and he wasn't the main character.

There are some laughs to be had: the antics of a wedding party, for an overly enthusiastic couple named Chuck & Cindy whose motto is "Lovin' Life: 24/7", in the hotel at which Drew is staying, Jessie's band Ruckus' blowout performance, and every line that comes out of Aunt Dora's chubby little mouth. However Crowe's story relies too little on these parts. Elizabethtown is supposed to be about fathers and sons, family and new love but on this front, it fails on all accounts. None of these issues are explored satisfactorily; they are grazed over but never really dealt with on a less than artificial basis.

The best thing about Elizabethtown is its soundtrack. Skip the movie and go to the record store.


Rating: 2 out of 5 stars