Elizabethtown (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes

Elizabethtown (2005)



Critic Consensus: This story of a floundering shoe designer who returns home for a family tragedy gets lost in undeveloped plot lines and lackluster performances.

Movie Info

A young man in need of a fresh start gets one under highly unexpected circumstances in this emotionally resonant comedy drama from writer and director Cameron Crowe. Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) is considered the big success story in his family, having moved away from the small Kentucky town where he was born to California, where he works as a designer for Mercury, the nation's biggest athletic shoe company. But success has begun to elude Drew -- his most recent design was a resounding flop that has cost him his job, and his girlfriend, Ellen (Jessica Biel), has given him his walking papers. Drew is contemplating suicide when he gets word that his father has died, and that he's needed back home in Elizabethtown, KY, to help organize the funeral. With his mother, Hollie (Susan Sarandon), deep in denial about her husband's passing, Drew comes home to discover no one knows about his recent poor fortune, and he's greeted like a conquering hero. As Drew reconnects with his family and helps his sister, Heather (Judy Greer), look after Hollie, Drew gets a new lease on life and is reminded about what's really important to him. Helping him learn these valuable lessons is Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst), a pretty and optimistic flight attendant Drew meets on his flight home who has her own philosophies about positive thinking and the curative powers of travel. Elizabethtown also stars Alec Baldwin, Paul Schneider, Bruce McGill, Loudon Wainwright III, and Paula Deen.more
Rating: PG-13 (for language and some sexual references)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Cameron Crowe
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 7, 2006
Box Office: $26.8M
Paramount Pictures - Official Site


Orlando Bloom
as Drew Baylor
Kirsten Dunst
as Claire Colburn
Susan Sarandon
as Hollie Baylor
Alec Baldwin
as Phil DeVoss
Bruce McGill
as Bill Banyon
Judy Greer
as Heather Baylor
Jessica Biel
as Ellen Kishmore
Paul Schneider
as Jessie Baylor
Gailard Sartain
as Charles Dean
Jed Rees
as Chuck Hasboro
Paula Deen
as Aunt Dora
Dan Biggers
as Uncle Roy
Tim Devitt
as Mitch Baylor
Ted Manson
as Sad Joe
Shane E. Lyons
as Starstruck Kid
Emily Rutherfurd
as Cindy Hasboro
Michael Naughton
as Another Cousin
Nina Jefferies
as Staring Mona
Emily Goldwyn
as Star Basketball Play...
Allison Munn
as Desk Clerk Charlotte
Tom Humbarger
as Crematory Concierge
Gregory North
as Helicopter Pilot
Steve Seagren
as Dock Worker
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Elizabethtown

Critic Reviews for Elizabethtown

All Critics (177) | Top Critics (44)

The hero's nuclear family and kooky rural relatives are so sketchily conceived that none of the intended comedy works, and the balance of the movie is given over to one of Crowe's sugary romances.

Full Review… | April 22, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

So curious, and such a disappointment.

Full Review… | April 22, 2008
Associated Press
Top Critic

Crowe's capable of much better than this; let's hope he gets back on track with the next one.

Full Review… | January 11, 2007
Seattle Times
Top Critic

The entire enterprise smacks of wish-fulfilment provoked by middle-age male guilt. Uplifting, it most certainly ain't.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Much maligned but surprisingly entertaining...

Full Review… | August 18, 2014
Reel Film Reviews

It's the fashion today for interpersonal dramas to go for bathos and high-stakes emotional conflict as characters cry out their darkest secrets to each other ... but director Cameron Crowe has taken a different tack.

Full Review… | March 21, 2011

Audience Reviews for Elizabethtown

Things I Liked About "Elizabethtown" Upon Second Viewing
1. Orlando Bloom's performance. Despite having contracted Orlando Bloom Fever at the beginning of his mainstream career, with each "Pirates" and "LotR" installment, I got wearier and wearier of his pretty boy, dainty-featured backpfeifengesicht - German for "a face in desperate need of a fist." I felt a bit of that repulsion in the first few minutes of this viewing, but I eventually made peace with the delicate flower of his visage and was really impressed with his acting, especially during the road trip montage when he's alternately crying and laughing to himself.

2. The heartwarming midwest community. I saw this for the first time in northern Virginia, so perhaps I didn't understand the midwest mentality until I lived in Indiana. My daily life isn't quite like the family portrayed here, but even I was moved at the sequence of Drew first driving into Elizabethtown and seeing everyone waving and smiling at him with faces of seeming recognition, welcoming back the Prodigal Son.

3. The memorial ceremony turned into raucous fire and blazes, accompanied by Ruckus's indomitable cover of "Free Bird."

4. Claire's thought and effort of creating an emotional road trip for Drew to scatter his father's ashes.

Things I STILL HATE About "Elizabethtown" Upon Second Viewing
1. Kirsten Dunst. I didn't find her or her character, Claire, charming, cute, deep, or romantic (like NaPo's Sam in "Garden State" and even she's only likeable in small doses). "Elizabethtown" came during that dryspell after Kiki had outgrown her lost prodigy depth and bubbly cheerleader charm - which yielded such lifeless and/or annoying performances as in "The Cat's Meow," "Spiderman," "Eternal Sunshine," "Wimbledon," and this - and before she rebirthed herself as melancholic muse for the likes of Sofia Coppola and Lars von Trier. Her Kentuckian accent is terribly...not, and she plays Claire as much too self-deprecating (half-laughing through the big "I like you!" line), as if the actress didn't even buy the character's quirkiness. Claire herself is just a girl. She recites some manic pixie dreamgirl juxtapositions that seem delightfully incongruous, but then prove to be ACTUALLY incongruous and faux-inspired, e.g. "I'm impossible to forget, but I'm hard to remember." "Men see things in a box, and women see them in a round room." Is she? Do they?

2. The so-called fiasco involving Drew's shoe design. There's so much pretentious, aphoristic talk about fiascos and failures, but what exactly WAS the fiasco? What was wrong with the shoe? How could such a promising young podophile possibly think this vaguely Skechers Shape-Up prototype would work, and how did no one else notice its Achilles' Heel, if you will? The fact that none of this is ever revealed shows how little legitimate research on the shoe industry Cameron Crowe did. For one, it's lazy writing and directing. For two: see below.

3. The light treatment of suicide. This needn't have been a sadder movie, but it IS realistic at least, for all intensive porpoises. Without the grounding exploration of what failure means in the shoe industry, Drew's subsequent obsession with suicide is purely comical and absurd, not intellectual or existential. I'm never actually worried for or in suspense about his mortality. Also, the repercussions of the fiasco are only limned in monetary terms. Drew never expresses critical doubt about his mental, intellectual, social or self worth, which are more compelling problems than just the Benjamins. Even after Claire admits her burgeoning feelings for him, his immediate response is to blithely cite his date with destiny? Suicide's just a quirky appointment, not something that he is seriously debating cuz I'm sure after meeting his manic pixie dreamgirl, he'd be more apt to wine and dine the girl, not slice and dice his veins.

4. Hollie's tap dance. Okay, I normally love DANCE in movies, but I just wish this number was a little better. I know Hollie had just learned to tap dance on a whim in her grief, but the choreography was more soft shoe than tap. After her standup routine (which I didn't like although I do understand its purpose of diffusing grief), I just wasn't moved or impressed by the dance, and I wanted either more emotion or better execution.

5. The "last look" at the memorial. I was already irritated by the quirkiness of Drew "collecting last looks" and Claire clicking her mental camera, and Crowe managed to mess it up in the one place it could work. Amid the smoke, sprinklers, and Skynyrd, Drew looks up to the stage one last time, presumably at the sad but oddly jubilant tableau of his father's smoldering portrait and this utter shitshow, and thinks that this is a good last look, only to reveal Claire as the subject of his observation. It's not even that good of a last look, and it's clearly not the last time she'll be seeing him. I could buy it if it was a goodbye to his father and to the vagaries of the midwest.

6. The fact that everyone loves the soundtrack. I think it's overrated. Many of the songs sound like the same indie moaning. I prefer "Vanilla Sky"'s soundtrack.

Alice Shen

Super Reviewer


This is my second time watching this and 1 hour in I am removing this from the DVD player and my collection. It totally bores the hell out of me.
I like Kirsten Dunst, and she is charming here as Clare, but it is not enough to save this film and she's not in it enough.
Unconvincing on almost every level, Orlando cannot hold a film for two hours.

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

The movie sucked and made kittke sense by the soundtrack was excellent, shame James Brown with thats life didn't make the sound track. Movie gets 2 stars, Soundtrack gets 5 stars

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

Elizabethtown Quotes

– Submitted by Debra O (4 months ago)
– Submitted by Angela R (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Nadz S (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Nadz S (3 years ago)

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