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Overall Rating

Awesome: 19.09%
Worth A Look: 24.55%
Average: 6.36%
Pretty Bad: 10%
Total Crap40%

9 reviews, 56 user ratings

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by U.J. Lessing

"Something is Rotten in the State of Kentucky."
2 stars

First the good news: it appears that Zach Braff’s Garden State, one of my favorite films of last year, has spawned an imitator. It’s nice that the twenty-somethings of today crave gently paced and thoughtful, philosophical comedies and colorful songs over the Bruckheimerian trash that my generation hungrily devoured ten years ago. (From the Oxford English Dictionary; Bruckheimerian: loud, jittery, shallow, explosive, patriotic and incorporates Steve Buscemi.) The bad news is that Cameron Crowe, in an attempt to duplicate the magic of Garden State, has fashioned a movie filled with so much unnecessary whimsy and so little character development, that it implodes into a mess of celluloid.

Elizabethtown begins by introducing us to young hip workaholic Drew (Orlando Bloom) who works as a sneaker designer. Drew is despondent and suicidal after creating a complex, unique vision that flops and costs his company millions. (No doubt, life will imitate art for Cameron Crowe when the weekend grosses come out on Sunday.)

His girlfriend drops him, and his boss Phil (Alec Baldwin) makes Drew take on the entire weight of the failure. Baldwin’s all-too-brief performance is a brilliant exercise in restrained comedy, and is a small ray of sunlight that briefly breaks through this tumultuous, dreary film.

Drew is just about to commit suicide by stabbing himself with a knife duct taped to an exercise bike. (‘It’ll be like Harold and Maude meets Ron Popeil!’ Crowe probably quipped.) But just before he ends it all, Drew luckily gets a call from his sister informing him that his father has died of a heart attack, and that somebody needs to attend a memorial and collect the body from Elizabethtown, Kentucky: Dad’s childhood home.

Drew hops on a plane with a duffel full of clothing, his father’s blue suit, and Tom Petty’s complete works to pad the soundtrack of the movie. On the plane, he meets Claire (Kirsten Dunst), a perky stewardess with a supposedly southern accent. (Although if she attempted to recreate that accent in Louisville, she’d be politely but firmly chastised.)

They hit it off, and she gives Drew her cell phone number so he can call her at midnight to listen to her pearls of wisdom like, “Everyone is less mysterious than they think they are.” Their relationship never grows, but the sheer volume of artificial lines squeezed through Dunst’s cute teeth does increase to migraine-inducing proportions. Not since Madonna locked lips with Adriano Giannini in Swept Away has a relationship been so unromantic and unnatural.

Drew arrives at Elizabethtown, and learns that his father was beloved in his hometown, and Drew connects with his father’s community. These scenes are the most honest and touching, and Orlando Bloom manages to transcend the poor romance and deliver some emotive moments. A subdued performance by folksinger, Loudon Wainwright as Uncle Dale added poignancy as well.

But then the rest of the film comes in and crushes these gentle scenes to oblivion. Susan Sarandon (playing Drew’s Mom, Hollie) bursts into the memorial service and proceeds to give a seven-minute speech in the manner of one who is frenziedly seeking a best supporting actress Oscar. She then embraces life by dancing. At this point, exhaustion set in, and a growing communal silent prayer emanated from the audience asking God to end the movie. But no such luck.

An urn is lost and found. Curtains and a papier-mâché bird are set on fire. Coffins plummet into graves. Leonard Skynard’s Freebird is played! I was anticipating circus clowns and Renaissance bards dancing a tarantella, but I guess there were only so many artificial scenes Crowe could stuff into two long, excruciating hours. Elizabethtown ends with a road-trip that seems mildly appealing on the screen, but in reality would be long, lonely and boring.

Elizabethtown is so busy with its flights of the imagination that it never frets about how little character development and few real moments there are. How sad that Cameron Crowe, the man behind Say Anything and Almost Famous should become so infatuated with whimsy. The lesson to be learned is that whimsy for whimsy’s sake is not only a bad idea. It’s downright sorrowful.

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originally posted: 10/15/05 08:31:43
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2005 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/06/16 Lucia There is literally NOTHING likable about any of the characters in this film. 1 stars
3/18/14 Fykvvqfc Since Aflac japanese remains the No.Men left sterile by cancer treatment as well as with th 4 stars
2/22/14 Bgpstiag 99 unlimited streaming and binary options australia turn it into something bigger., <a href 5 stars
2/20/14 Lola This is the funniest, most spot-on review of this film -- I laughed so hard I peed myself 5 stars
2/13/14 gGrWfmlqrQcdI sverige.txt;1 4 stars
7/02/10 Ninjaboy This dude has written the BEST movie review I have EVER read. It is accurate and 100% corre 1 stars
3/15/10 Shoy I think this reviewer's got issues beyond his hatred of Elizabethtown. I enjoyed the film. 4 stars
2/22/10 Cat Garbage on every leve. As a chick it is ofensive. Orlando Bloom is wooden in this film. 1 stars
1/26/10 Ato I'm happy people have finally realised that Orlando Bloom IS NOT A LEADING MAN!! 1 stars
12/21/09 tom absolutely terrible. No redeemable merit AT ALL! 1 stars
7/19/09 Meg WORST. EVER. 1 stars
11/04/08 Will sucked balls. 1 stars
10/26/08 John McCarthy I had to give up half way through and read angry reviews to feel normal again 1 stars
8/22/08 Stephanie Oh my god, this movie was AWFUL. Pointless, boring, and 2.5 hours of my life GONE FOREVER! 1 stars
8/13/08 Brenda I didn't like it. The main character is unlikable. It has huge sections of nothing. Dull! 1 stars
4/26/08 Pinoy Kabayan Very good. Ilike it 5 stars
4/26/08 Roz Couldn't stand it. Boring on so many levels. 1 stars
4/10/07 Jessie Lee Good film... Not perfect, but not the horrid trash some may lead you to believe. 3 stars
3/11/07 Dominic Rubbish - and this is from someone who is an unabashed Almost Famous fan 1 stars
10/23/06 meredith the feel of the movie was fantastic but the plot was a little piontless but i loved the dia 4 stars
8/26/06 Joe Chris Parry's review is more amusing than the film. Watch "Jerry Maguire" again instead. 2 stars
8/15/06 Ashley Hinz Strange little movie, but fine. 4 stars
5/20/06 Christine Wilbik Boring, lost interest in the movie immediately 2 stars
3/26/06 Thomas Semesky A film that I liked, but I can understand why others wouldn't 3 stars
3/15/06 Michelle D Just read Chris Parry's review. 1 stars
3/13/06 Roderick Cromar Really not good. It's difficult either to believe the plot or to sympathise with the leads. 2 stars
2/28/06 Kevin Smith Orlando Bloom is not a good actor 1 stars
2/26/06 Murray Snowdon total and utter waste of time - pathetic 1 stars
2/24/06 ES Didn't hate it, didn't love it. Re-watchability 0% 3 stars
12/22/05 Kirsten Dunst fan in mourning starting with virgin suicides Painful seeing Kirsten Dunst morph into totally thinking her shit don't stink! 1 stars
12/17/05 Once great Kirsten Dunst continues downward spiral. Anyone else find Claire to be obnoxious?? 2 stars
11/09/05 kammie love love loved it!!! 5 stars
11/09/05 tanja some good ideas and curious dialogues mixed with poor acting 3 stars
11/06/05 rod james Total boring rubbish 1 stars
11/06/05 Laura petersen one of my favorites, more of a chick flick and im not even a orlando fan 5 stars
10/24/05 GiR It was adorable..but not worth paying to see it..good thing I work at a movie theatre. 4 stars
10/24/05 Don A good "substitute" for the movie you came to see . . . 4 stars
10/23/05 John I turned to my wife halfway through, and said that I want to get on his bicycle now 1 stars
10/23/05 jay straight forward poop 1 stars
10/23/05 baseball-nut I didn't care for it, but my wife liked it considering she's an Orlando Bloom fan! 3 stars
10/22/05 Boombala Hey If Kirsten Dunst's head exploded, would it affect her acting? 1 stars
10/21/05 john mills The Congo of romance. Simply awful!!! 1 stars
10/21/05 Bri really, really good! definately worth watching 5 stars
10/20/05 odditie Please make better decisions Orlando! 1 stars
10/19/05 Steve Michaud Even "lesser" Cameron Crowe is scads better than most of the stuff churned out these days. 4 stars
10/19/05 Ron Sandvick Excellent and fun 5 stars
10/17/05 Ryan Possibly a movie that non-20somethings just won't get. Understandably. 4 stars
10/17/05 ajay man, there's a lot of people down on Cameron Crowe. It's not a bad flick. 3 stars
10/17/05 jeff just stupid!!! 1 stars
10/16/05 Cara Undoubtedly, this is the worst movie I have ever seen in my entire 54 years of existence. 1 stars
10/16/05 Tommy Adams Left me speechless, as few moviews have. Loved it! 5 stars
10/15/05 Jim The Movie Freak This should've been better 3 stars
10/14/05 Criddler Diddler More embarassingly inept garbage from pretentious hack Cameron Crowe? Hurray! 1 stars
10/12/05 Alonso Duralde Horrible! Cutesy/phony/precious/fartsy—maybe even worse than "Vanilla Sky." Avoid! 1 stars
10/11/05 Dan Moore very insightful film on human nature 5 stars
9/28/05 E. Northam Lightweight, predictable romantic comedy 2 stars
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  14-Oct-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Feb-2006



Directed by
  Cameron Crowe

Written by
  Cameron Crowe

  Orlando Bloom
  Kirsten Dunst
  Susan Sarandon
  Judy Greer
  Jessica Biel
  Alec Baldwin

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