Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) designs footwear for a large company. When his trendy innovative new design causes the company to lose almost a billion dollars in sales, Phil DeVoss (Alec Baldwin), his boss, fires him. His girl friend dumps him and Drew goes to his apartment ready to do away with himself. 


As he is about to do the deed, the phone rings. His sister Heather (Judy Greer) is frantic. Their father has died on a visit to his hometown in Elizabethtown, KY where he grew up. Their mother Hollie (Susan Sarandon) wants Drew to go to Elizabethtown and bring their father home to  for cremation. 


On the red-eye flight to Louisville Drew is attended to by a chatty flight attendant named Claire (Kirsten Dunst). Drew doesn’t want to talk, but she is irrepressible. She even gives him directions to Elizabethtown  – with her phone number written on the paper as well. 


When Drew finally arrives (he misses the exit) he meets relatives who are kindly and extend southern hospitality, but who are also eccentric and a bit odd. They make a fuss over him and he discovers who his father’s family really is. They want to bury his dad in the family plot at the cemetery and a bit of a struggle develops. It is resolved when Hollie and Heather arrive for the memorial service. Meanwhile Drew is staying in town at the hotel and contacts Claire. A romance develops.


Elizabethtown was written and directed by Cameron Crowe who also gave us the Academy Award winners Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous. Elizabethtown may garner some awards from groups that appreciate wholesomeness no matter how the film is put together, but the movie didn’t work for me. I was talking to a friend from rural Virginia today and she said she and her son loved the movie because all those quirky relatives are their family, but that wasn’t enough for me.


The film is like a freight train made up of all kinds of cars hooked haphazardly together bouncing down the tracks from the city to hicksville. This could be a fine premise for a film~ just not this one.


Elizabethtown takes on a topic like suicide, but we never really believe Drew is going to do it. Hollie, Susan Sarandon, does a lovely tap dance in memory of her deceased husband, but I couldn’t figure out why. I don’t think the film knew if it was supposed to be a comedy or a drama, or even a good mixture. Bill Banyon, played by Bruce McGill, had done something horrible to Drew’s dad regarding a business deal, but we never find out enough information to balance out the weight the script gives it.


Shall I continue?


Sure, there are themes of family, forgiveness, growing up, looking at life as a journey, accepting responsibility, and so forth, but the film never engaged me enough to care.


Afriend and colleague of mine, Craig Detweiller, has written a Bible study-guide for the film using the lyrics of all the songs on the sound track. You can access it at www.HollywoodJesus.com . This is an ingenious idea, and perhaps by considering the film this way, one can appreciate it more. (But I didn’t even hear the music.)


The thing is, Orlando Bloom is prettier than Kirsten Dunst and he has better hair.


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