** (out of 5)
October 14, 2005
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
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Directed by: Cameron Crowe
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Some people see movies for the actors. Some see them for the actors. Indeed, some people refuse to see movies for the same reason. I’m no different.
However, sometimes movies come out that are made by people that I really don’t care about. In some ways, that makes me the perfect audience; in other ways, it makes me the worst possible kind.
I know that a lot of ladies out there just love Orlando Bloom. I’ll admit, he’s a good looking man. And he’s not that bad of an actor. He just doesn’t have the “it factor” needed to really carry a movie. Good looks only take you so far. If that weren’t the case, then Dean Cain and Antonio Sabato, Jr. would be the most successful men in Hollywood. (If you asked yourself, “Who?” to that last statement, you’ve just proved my point.)
If there was ever proof that Bloom doesn’t have the chops to carry a film, it’s Cameron Crowe’s “Elizabethtown.” Bloom plays a suicidal man who has just lost his job after the biggest corporate fiasco in history. His girlfriend dumped him, and he just learned that his father died unexpectedly. Because his mother and sister are sociologically crippled, he has to travel to his father’s home town in rural Kentucky to pick up the pieces.
Along the way, he meets a flight attendant (Kirsten Dunst) who throws herself at him in a way that could be considered stalker quality and eventually finds her way into his heart. She teaches him to love and live again. Blah, blah, blah. You get the picture.
Ultimately, “Elizabethtown” suffers from a severe identity crisis. On one hand, it’s about a guy dealing with cosmic failure in his life. Then, it’s about him dealing with the death of his father. Then it’s about him discovering a new relationship. Then it’s about his mother coming to terms with her in-laws. Then it’s about a strange and completely out-of-place road trip along Route 66.
There’s quite a few decent names in the supporting cast, but the ensemble quality is its downfall. The normally sardonically funny Alec Baldwin is wasted and only seen in the beginning (and a tiny little flashback later on). The gorgeous and curvy Jessica Biel just shows up looking pretty and doing little else. And Susan Sarandon (a waste of space, in my opinion) actually tries desperately to make things work, but is left looking like she was hired as a favor.
This film doesn’t really work for fans of Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst or Cameron Crowe. Both Bloom and co-star Kirsten Dunst turn in completely uninspired performances with line deliveries on the level of community theater. Crowe, known for his history as the youngest correspondent for Rolling Stone, forces a soundtrack to this film that just seems awkward at every step of the way.
I actually dozed off during this movie. It was only for ten minutes, and it was very early on. A friend of mine who was with me assured me that I didn’t miss much, but I keep wondering if I did. Maybe there was something magical in those ten minutes. Maybe not. But whatever the reason, this movie lost me.
And at some point, this movie is going to lose you, too. If it’s not when Susan Sarandon starts tap dancing and talking about boners, then maybe it’ll be when the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Freebird” starts a hotel fire.
I don’t know if Crowe was trying to reveal himself in this film, or how personal the story was to him. However, it seemed as if he was too close to it to make things work. There are weak directing choices abound, including a tendency to rip off other (better) movies, like “Forces of Nature,” “Around the Bend” and his own “Almost Famous.”