Before ELIZABETHTOWN, Cameron Crowe had given us Tom Cruise in inspiring form in JERRY MAGUIRE and the truly wonderful music love-fest that is ALMOST FAMOUS. So, while most people really didn’t appreciate ELIZABETHTOWN, I’m here to tell you why you should give it another chance. Let’s begin, Orlando Bloom – stay with me – is Drew Baylor, a revolutionary athletics shoe designer and this new project isn’t any old shoe, the Späsmodica is set to change the world. Surely, nothing can go wrong? Obviously, it does and he loses $973 million, gets fired and then he tries to kill himself with a kitchen knife attached to an exercise bike but just as he’s about to commit suicide, a call comes in and it’s his sister, telling him that he has to come home because his Dad has suddenly died. Crappy day.
What makes ELIZABETHTOWN a great film is its good-hearted nature, a road back from ruin, one hell of a soundtrack and the delectable Kirsten Dunst playing Claire Colburn. Now, she’s been described as a ‘manic pixie dream girl’ in this film and maybe she is, but she’s also what makes this film work. Without Claire’s excessively positive outlook and disarmingly forgivable stalker-like qualities, the film would be seriously missing something. Given that this is also post-Lord of the Rings for Bloom as well, he couldn’t be further from the Elf-ears of the Woodland Realm, as he’s self-deprecating, miserable and lost. I’d go as far as to say, this is by far one of his best roles outside of the mainstream.
There’s the funeral wake for Drew’s dad where his mum, Susan Sarandon, tells dirty jokes and then tap dances to her late husband’s favourite song, it’s unexpectedly poignant and utterly unique. Sarandon tap dancing, have you seen that before? I think not. But it’s not all over as the band starts to play Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd, they reach the guitar pinnacle, a giant bird that’s supposed to come down from the stage actually catches fire and swings out across the giant family gathering but it’s STILL not over as the band keeps playing the epic song, the sprinklers kick off and everybody gets wet, whilst running screaming from a giant bird on fire, fantastic.
Following this, Claire gives Drew a mix-tape to go and ‘find himself’. Every song has been perfectly executed for his road-trip and for him to go looking for her but only if he wants to, the soundtrack is effortlessly part of the narrative. Does he go all the way? It doesn’t get that graphic but I do know they meet up at the world’s second largest Farmers Market. There’s also a terrific cast in the shape of Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, Alec Baldwin, Bruce McGill, Jessica Biel and music legend Loudon Wainwright III.
This is the thing about Crowe; he’ll take his successful creations and drag them down to the depths, and then hope they find a way back up but they’ll learn as they go along. ELIZABETHTOWN is a trip all of its own and although the critics panned it a little, and I know it’s cheesy and you’ll probably even predict the direction of the narrative a mile-off, I don’t care, I love it and you should to.
Review by Dan Bullock, originally posted on TheHollywoodNews.com