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.
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.
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.
This movie is definitely worth watching, and you will enjoy it better the second or third time you see it. The reason being that it doesn't tell us a story of one event - a funeral, but rather allows us to observe two young people dancing around each other. The reason I compare it to Pride and Prejudice is because I consider the psychology of the main characters being the focus of this movie. Although it's not described in so much detail and it certainly doesn't take some six hours as the (good) P&P, it is very funny to watch the way Claire and Drew's acquaintance develops. You could put Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey into the movie (well, maybe I wouldn't risk Spacey, just to be sure), and in the end you would still have just Claire and Drew, laughing and talking and trying to look relaxed... and it's really fun. The result is - don't mind the simple story. Observe the characters, try to understand them - and you will greatly enjoy it.