Cameron Crowe hasn't done many movies in his career, but almost all of them are noteworthy. From "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (which he wrote but did not direct) to "Jerry Maguire" to "Almost Famous," his movies are undeniable classics in some sense or another, which means that expectations were running high for "Elizabethtown." Unfortunately, "Elizabethtown" failed both commercially and critically, but a critical failure for Crowe meant it "isn't as good as his other films." If you go to Rottentomatoes.com and read the negative reviews, most of them would leave a lesser-known director happy. It's not that "Elizabethtown" is bad; it's just that it never ascends to the place where most of Crowe's other works exist.
Orlando Bloom stars as a young ex-executive of a major shoe company - I say "ex" because he just lost the company over 900 million dollars. That's $900,000,000 - almost a billion dollars. Needless to say, he is out of a job and about to get his future career torn apart on national television. On top of that, he gets home and learns that his father, whom he hadn't seen in years, has passed away. Good day, huh? On the flight home, he meets a beautiful yet oddly annoying flight attendant (Kirsten Dunst) who gives him some advice, and it goes from there - a strange relationship begins to brew between the two of them, despite the mounting factors against said relationship - public embarrassment, death and so on and so forth.
As with most critics, I don't have many negative things to say about "Elizabethtown," but my praise is rather muted, too. Section-by-section, "Elizabethtown" has it all - romance, drama, comedy - and it pulls everything off quite nicely. Dunst is about as annoying as she's ever been, but at the same time is mildly realistic in an in-your-face kind of way. Bloom, sporting an American accent, is hardly recognizable as that guy from "The Lord of the Rings," which remains to this day his most prominent piece of work. He makes for a good lead, but was much better in "Kingdom of Heaven." There are plenty of hilarious moments, and several powerful dramatic moments, but for some reason things just don't click the way a Crowe film normally clicks.
"Elizabethtown" is never boring but still feels way long at times. In hindsight I feel as though I was zoned out for a third of the movie. This film is a perfect example of how a great screenplay does not always translate into a great film; it probably read wonderfully on paper and just did not translate to the big screen.
That being said, "Elizabethtown" ends on a high note, as the featured road trip at the end of the movie is amazing. The ending isn't quite as good as the road trip in "The 25th Hour," but that's a completely different genre and I don't know why I brought it up just now. Crowe finally brings things together at the end, and it leaves a lasting impression on you.
"Elizabethtown" is clearly not Crowe's best work, but compared to most movies it is still quite good. The movie has plenty of little juicy scenes, but overall is a bit too spread out for its own good.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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