She Said: Don’t go to ‘Elizabethtown’
“Elizabethtown” tries to delve way too deep into the psychology of the sole in the beginning and, in the end, it doesn’t go deep enough into matters of the soul.In the first part of the story, creative genius Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom in a flat performance) walks the audience through an excruciatingly long narration of his failure as a footwear company whiz kid. He plans to kill himself after his cutting-edge shoe fails. But just as he duct-tapes a knife to his exercise machine so he can stab himself in the heart, he finds out his father died. So he puts his death on hold to deal with his father’s.For some reason, his mother and sister don’t travel from Oregon to Louisville, Ky., to pick up the dead body; instead, they send Drew, who reacquaints himself with his large, close-knit family that accepts him while at the same time maintaining that he’s from “California” instead of Oregon. Later, his mother and sister show up in a revolting and nonsensical scene that almost convinced me to give the movie two stars. Only the uplifting ending upgraded my final rating by half a star.Among too many subplots with cousins, mothers, sisters and a random couple getting married, director Cameron Crowe slips in a love story. Kirsten Dunst outshines Bloom with charisma, and her character, Claire Colburn, outtalks just about anyone. When Claire emerges as an obnoxiously perky airline attendant, I wondered how anyone could make her a sympathetic and viable love interest in a romantic comedy.And that’s the basic problem with “Elizabethtown”: Everything seems forced. It’s as if producers had The Life-Affirming Message to impart to audiences, and it took precedence over plot, character, editing or artful presentation. Coincidentally enough, Tom Cruise was one of the producers of “Elizabethtown” and a co-producer of “Vanilla Sky” with director Crowe. I thought the message overshadowed the movie in “Vanilla Sky” as well.Though music – which Crowe masterfully inserted – eases awkward transitions, in general, the flow of “Elizabethtown” is jagged. Scenes come out of nowhere. And for all the fuss over the shoe, we never find out exactly why the company recalled it – apparently Crowe cut the explanation after audiences reacted poorly to pre-release screenings.Ultimately, Crowe only cut 18 minutes from the original screening – and it wasn’t enough. At 125 minutes, the film crams in too many elements, ultimately drawing out what could have been a snappy romantic comedy.The saddest part of “Elizabethtown” is it could have been a meaningful romantic film that artistically presented issues of love, life and death for audiences to ponder, much like “Garden State” did. Instead, I was glad to leave the superficial, chaotic depiction, and if I didn’t have to write a review, I wouldn’t have given the movie a second thought.
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