Worth A Look: 23.81%
Pretty Bad: 10.48%
Total Crap: 40.95%
9 reviews, 51 user ratings
by Chris Parry
I haven't reviewed any films for a few months now, having been mostly sapped of my desire to participate in the film industry by the outright corruption and fraud of people like Earl Dittman, Paul Fischer, and Shawn Edwards. Rather than bathe in the cesspool that they have turned the film criticism world into, I opted to go away for a while and try other things. But deep down I knew that I would be back... it would just take a movie that really caused a visceral reaction within me to bring me back, kicking and screaming, into the arena of critiquing what some would call cinematic art. If someone had told me it would be a Cameron Crowe film that would bring me back, I would have assumed that my return would be based on a desire to tell all about how wonderful, creative, and original his latest film is. That I'm here, ready to tear strips off one of my favorite filmmakers, and figuratively burn this abomination of a film - this $59m personal therapy session for a self-involved daddy's boy who insists on forcing me to listen to his personal CD collection - at my expense, should tell you all you need to know about what is to follow. Daddy's home, and he's got the fucking belt.What an inconceivably awful piece of self-indulgent crap this movie is. Almost three hours long (20 minutes were apparently knocked off the end after its film festival debut was harshly received), and containing about 12 minutes of actual scenes, I couldn't have hated this movie more if it were produced by Tom Cruise.
"Not even Bret Ratner could make a feature film this awful."
Which, of course, it was.
Test Tube Tommy notwithstanding, and despite the presence of a pair of leads, in Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, who couldn't act their way out of a high school performance of The Pirates of Penzance (oh wait, Orlando just did that one last year, didn't he?) I was prepared to give Elizabethtown a fair shake. I wanted it to surprise me. I wanted my former screenplay hero, Cameron Crowe, he of the Say Anything/Jerry McGuire/Almost Famous trifecta of glory, to show me that he still had it.
30 seconds in, it lost me. 3 minutes in, it angered me. 13 minutes in, I wanted to start randomly garotting people in the next row. 23 minutes in, I actually tried to.
So Orlando Bloom is a sneaker designer - the best there is - who has just run his company nigh bankrupt because he made a sneaker that whistles when you run. Actually, this I knew from the press notes of the film when it played at various film festivals, and it's only important to note that because, in the theatre version of the film, any reference to why Orlando's shoe blows is removed entirely. We never know why he has brought down the company, if the marketplace was fickle or if the shoe exploded when touched. We have no clue, and seemingly it's not very important. But if it WASN'T important, WHY THE HELL does this fucking awful movie spend half an our telling me about the god damned shoe?!!?
On and on it goes. "I made a shoe. It blew. Don't know what to do. Maybe I'll go to the loo." Orlando doesn't say that, in actuality, but what he does say, and how he actually says it, isn't very far off that standard.
So the Shoe Loser costs his company, like, a billion dollars, and that means he can't hump Jessica Biel anymore (Way to pigeonhole yourself there, Jess. Who's your agent these days, Joe Eszterhas?), which would annoy me a whole lot more than losing some rich tool's fortune. Either way, Shoe Loser decides he must kill himself, because if you can't design sneakers, what else is there in life?
So he tapes a knife to an eliptical exercise bike handlebars and hops on, hoping to stab himself to death. Now, this I would have paid good money to see - Orlando Bloom being stabbed multiple times in the chest by the very same equipment that got him a career? BLISSFUL! The only problem is, this guy has as much talent designing suicide contraptions as he does sneakers, apparently. Show some fucking courage, Bloom! Take the knife and cut your fucking throat already!
Ahem. Sorry about that. Probably not very professional of me, but...
Look, I'll say it, Orlando Bloom is to acting as Mike Brown is to hurricane disaster planning. He is to the thespian arts as the Kansas City Royals are to baseball. He is to drama as George W. Bush is to sound economic policy. He is to humanity as David Duke is to race relations. If Joey Tribbiani actually became a real movie star, in real life, he'd be Orlando Bloom. To quote FilmStew.com's Brett Buckalew, who wrote perhaps the most flat out applause-worthy line from any film review written this year, Elizabethtown features "the blandest, most emotionally inexpressive performance yet from the least distinguished member of The Lord of the Rings’ ensemble cast."
Well said, sir. I salute you.
So the actor now to be referred to as Drama Vaccuum is interrupted during his suicide attempt by his bonehead sister who has called to bawl at him about his father being dead. So now Drama Vaccuum has to go to Western Kentucky and collect his pappy's corpse so it can be burned in Oregon and thrown in a river. Keeping up? Good, because this is the least painful way to experience this god-awful story - trust me on that.
So Drama Vaccuum is all mopey on the flight but is imposed upon by the world's least professional, most talkative, and seemingly least intelligent flight attendant. Rather than let him sleep (at 3am), she sits and talk at him for hours, then gives him her phone number(s), and a map, and probably her high school class ring, and maybe a subscription to Time Magazine, or maybe a sandwich. Now, if that had happened to me, the first thing I'd be thinking is that the flight attendant is a hooker. In fact, I'd be HOPING she was just a hooker, because if she wasn't trying to score crack money on a layover, then she's just a messed up stalker who WON'T SHUT UP, and I could do without another of those.
So he goes to visit his Western Kentucky kin, and they all seem to have taken their character cues from the episode of The Family Guy where a murdered is after Chris and so the family goes to live in some town called Bumstuck with hillbillys and a pig that is good at math. All these people really needed was seven teeth between them and an extended scene involving spitting into a hooch bottle in time with banjo music and you would have had the most stereotypical collection of quirk since the last Canadian prairie movie involving Maury Chaykin.
So where is all this leading? NOWHERE!
The flight attendant stalks Drama Vaccuum a little, then they talk on the phone for, I swear to god, about half an hour of screen time, during which time they seem to be totally falling in love. They yack on about crap that would make me hang up on either one of them, but because they're BOTH idiots, it works for them! Eventually they decide to drive out and meet each other and see the sun set, which gives us five minutes of driving shots and more inane phone chatter (what is this fantasy world these people inhabit where you can talk all night on a cell and the battery never runs out?), and then, after half an hour of setup, they sit on the wall and look at the sunset for 12 seconds before saying the words you all waited for...
"I guess we peaked early, huh?" - and then they LEAVE!?!
Are you fucking kidding me? This is what passes for a movie in Cameron Crowe's world? A half-hour setup for a joke that isn't actually funny? In the words of Jon Stewart, "Wha..?"
I refuse to tell you anymore story because, dude, seriously, I've already told you like 90 minutes worth and we're still not at the real point of the film yet - which is, that it's Garden State without the funny. Or the romantic. Or the good.
Adding to the lack of 'good' is that Cameron Crowe has become convinced that his musical taste, after Almost Famous, is awesome. So awesome in fact that we're not allowed to enter, exit, or exist in a scene without hearing one of his personal favorite easy listening classics. Never before have I hated U2 so much.
And then there's Kirsten Dunst. You know, there are times when I look at Cameron Diaz, and as I try to blank my mind of the thousands of hours of TV entertainment journalists telling me that she's good looking, I take a long hard look at her and wonder, "If I didn't know who she was and she walked past in the street... would I do her?" And you know what? I wouldn't. She's horrid. She looks like someone has scrubbed her face with a toilet brush, then set it on fire, then doused it with lemon juice, then layered on some thick makeup before smacking her in the face with a snowshovel and putting her in a cocktail dress. Kirsten Dunst stands in the same category. Just because they tell us she's hot does not make it so.
I mean, I know she got her starting gig as the little girl in Interview With a Vampire, but does she REALLY have to wear the fangs everywhere she goes to remind us of the fact? Every single long, longing extreme close up that Cameron Crowe infused into this movie had me thinking the same thing - "Oh my god, she looks like she's coming for my throat." What's with the incisors, babe? Pull a Ben Affleck and get those choppers seen to. It's like she lost her teeth in a bizarre childhood accident and told the dentist to make her a set of false teeth "just like Sarah Polley's". Kirsten Dunst has the kind of mouth that makes Patricia Arquette giggle and point.
And it's not just that she's decidedly average looking while being passed off as a sex queen that makes me detest her, it's that she's a less talented actress than Orlando Bloom's little sister, Toxic. On the screen, she's dead to me, especially after two and a half hours of watching her version of quirky love in this utter vomit-in-your-own-mouth cinematic experience.
Reportedly this film cost $59m to make, and you can really see not one cent of that on the screen. In fact, I saw the film with a pair of directors who both said afterwards that they could have made the exact same film, with TALENTED actors, for under $3m. Of course, they probably wouldn't have had to license 78 different songs for their versions.
So was it just me? Am I just so anti-Drama Vaccuum and Snowshovel that I let my distaste for them stoip me from enjoying this film?
No. No, no I did not. This film could have starred Natalie Portman and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and I would have wanted to punch things watching it. Let me sum it up:
THE TOP TEN REASONS WHY ELIZABETHTOWN SUCKS ASS:
1) Worst. Dialogue. Ever. And I'm including George Lucas' attempts at romantic scenes in that.
2) 12-minute scenes where nothing happens.
3) Sub-plots that are not only unnecessary (the shoe thing is not even mentioned for a good 90 minutes of the film, but it bookends everything else), but they're just plain BORING.
4) Characters that you wouldn't root for if they were running a marathon with one leg while recovering from cancer and raising money for Somalian orphans.
5) Some of the least romantic romance ever, between two people who seem not to understand the words 'honesty', 'sincerity' or 'priorities'.
6) The hokiest of hokey country folk - and don't even tell me "that's how Kentuckians are" - I lived in Kentucky. I know Kentucky. This is not Kentucky. At least, not since 1958.
7) Did I mention the music that JUST. WON'T. STOP.
8) Did I mention it's TWO AND A HALF HOURS LONG?
9) The longest andmost unnecessary final scene since the completely hokey and pointless 'what happened next' montage in Spike Lee's The 25th Hour.
10) Three words: Susan Sarandon tapdancing.
Plot holes so monumental you could drive a Hummer through while doing a fishtail skid. The most unfunny 'comedy' funeral scene you'll ever set eyes upon. The most embarassing celebrity dance moment since Mark Ruffalo was forced to 'moonwalk' for his paycheck in 13 Going On 30. Camerawork so bland that even a 'magic hour' sunrise looks yawnworthy. And, yes, a scene revolving around 'Freebird'.
Kill me now, kill me with a spork.
I know some people actually liked this movie. I know some even loved it (not many - 38 positive reviews out of 128 at Rotten Tomatoes last time I looked). And to those people I can only shrug and secretly vow never to trust your judgement on anything cinematic again. This is, quite simply, the single worst movie I've seen since... well.. The Whole Ten Yards. But you wanna know what really hurts this former Cameron Crowe fan? The Whole Ten Yards had an excuse.
I didn't just dislike this film, I actively hated every frame. I wished for the film to go up in flames right there in the projector (hey, it's come true before). It made me visibly, undeniably, actively angry. I felt every bit as much disappointment and bile as I felt coming out of Hal Hartley's great cinematic 'fuck you everyone, fuck you very much', The Girl From Monday. It made me ache for the chance to pound the living crap out of it in print. And thus, ladies and gentlemen... I be back.If they're showing movies in Abu Ghraib, they're showing Elizabethtown. That's how bad it is.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12837&reviewer=1
originally posted: 10/21/05 12:03:07
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