August 18, 2013


Cameron Crowe, 2005


Drew Baylor is a shoe designer who is feeling the guilt of a huge loss for his company. He assumes things can't get any worse for him, and then he receives a phone call from his sister telling him that his father died. He soon must travel to his father's hometown of Elizabethtown as the family comes together for the funeral. 

People over the years have horribly criticized Elizabethtown. And unfairly. Anyone who is a fan of Cameron Crowe's work can feel his presence in this. He's there. It's just that there's too much of him there. It's unfair to just completely dismiss Elizabethtown as a mess. It's not a mess. There's just TOO MUCH going on. Cameron Crowe obviously had a lot to say. But this should have been two movies. Maybe three. The story of losing his father, and returning home to Elizabeth. One film. And I know, Garden State. But Crowe would have executed that better than Zach Braff. Him meeting Claire on an airplane? It's a great story, it really is. But thats another film. Both stories were conflicting. They didn't blend well and didn't play nice with each other. It's a shame, because some of the scenes in this film feel so real. The late night phone conversation with Claire. The chaos of the cousins screaming in the tight house. The forced neurotic distractions by his mother. At times the characters in the film do feel like caricatures, but they are still placed in very real moments.

Too much teasing. By the time the funeral scene rolled around, Claire should have been pregnant. "I Like You" – they should have been and were in love at that point. Orlando Bloom is engaging, it's just a shame that Crowe over-used him. Transitional shots of him dancing on an iron bridge, aimlessly pacing through his hotel room. Let him play to his strengths. Let the story breathe. His character was complex, and a lot of the time you could just see it on his face.

The roadtrip scene in the final act is the dagger in the heart of Elizabethtown. The intended emotion to that chapter is lost because you are still feeling (or should be) the effects of the funeral. Instead of the film ending at the funeral, you now have to get in a car with Drew for 42 hours. In the end, it's probably a film that probably looked so good on paper. It has all of the qualities of a Cameron Crowe film. Great music, real love, real emotion. Unfortunately it was just scattered all over the place. Maybe the editor is to blame. Maybe its Crowe. Either way, there should have been meetings about this. There is the real possibility that Cameron Crowe could have had two great films here, instead he had one OKAY one.

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