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Overall Rating

Awesome: 19.09%
Worth A Look: 24.55%
Just Average: 6.36%
Pretty Crappy: 10%

9 reviews, 56 user ratings

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by Robert Flaxman

"A great mixtape, but an awful movie."
1 stars

It is an amusing coincidence - or perhaps merely fitting - that one of the key words in Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown is "fiasco." Because that is precisely what is on display here - the fiasco of a talented writer and director indulging in his own worst impulses, leaving his film with the mark of a hack. This film is not novel, it is not clever, and it is not memorable, actively though it aspires to that status. It is, principally and pointedly, hollow, and it is endlessly predictable - every moment of it is choreographed to hit the most clichéd spots on the dance floor. It is, from beginning to end, a crippingly banal disaster.

Movie characters rarely sound like they just walked in off the street, but there is a difference between the occasional canned speech and characters who talk as though John Bartlett were feeding them lines from offscreen. Kirsten Dunst's character, Claire, is false to the point of embarrassment. With every word she utters you can practically see Crowe hunched over a typewriter in a dark room, desperately searching for the next line that a generation of moviegoers will gobble up, perhaps even treat as pop philosophy. This is the work of a man who not only believes his own hype, but is trying hard to generate more.

The plot fluctuates between depressingly rote and foolishly outlandish. We start with Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) having just lost the shoe company for which he works nearly one billion dollars due to a single bad design. It can't just be me thinking that this sounds preposterous, right? Worse still, Crowe seems to attempt some weird satire here, with the company CEO explaining to Drew in nodding tones how his global environmental watchdog program will have to be shut down. (Cue a room full of pandas on monitors. What?)

We proceed to Drew preparing to kill himself, in what I suppose is intended to be a fittingly high-concept fashion. Just before he can, though, he gets a call informing him that his father has passed away and that he has to fly to Kentucky and tend to the arrangements. Now, do you suppose that in or on the way to Kentucky he will meet someone who causes him not to kill himself? That's using your head.

Despite the fact that she is breathtakingly obnoxious in their initial meeting, Claire is that person. Their romance is pretty much by the numbers - boy meets girl, boy and girl get to know each other, boy and girl are kind of coy with each other, then end up falling for each other, then you think they’re not going to get together, but they do. (Does this spoil anything? Of course it doesn’t. Remember, this is a romantic comedy.)

Okay, so romantic comedies are usually predictable, and therefore bashing Crowe for the predictability of this one - and both of the only significant “twists” within the romantic plot are guessable from miles off - might seem a little unfair. It is not simply that Elizabethtown is utterly straightforward, however - it is that it is preoccupied with its own greatness in spite of this. Crowe has the obvious belief that he is poking at deeper truths and emotions, but if he is, he can’t get them to show themselves. There are perhaps two moments in the entire movie that really hit on any sustainable emotion, and both of those are weakened by the film that surrounds them. (It doesn’t help that both fit perfectly into the convention, keeping them from being able to truly stand out.)

Eventually, in his final humiliation, Crowe just gives up and does what we can tell he’s always wanted to do - put a mix tape on screen. He pretty much does it in every one of his movies anyway, but here it’s just egregious - Claire actually makes a mix tape for Drew’s road trip, complete with a scrapbook of pictures, directions, etc. (where on earth she found the time to time all this out perfectly in less than a week is anyone’s guess), and we’re forced to sit through it for the last 15 minutes or so of the film. In case you were wondering what it would be like to watch someone’s creativity fizzle out in front of your eyes, we now have the prime example.

Crowe has all but admitted to concerning himself as much with the film’s soundtrack as anything else - saying, “The music is as important as any of the characters” - so perhaps that explains the problem. Maybe he should simply stick to producing compilations, rather than seemingly cranking out a shockingly lousy film just so he could set a bunch of songs he liked to it. The odd thing is that the film manages to come across as so full of itself at the same time, believing so much in the cuteness of its characters and story that it simply tries to will them into existence, rather than actually earning the stripes with anything that felt genuine.

That Elizabethtown is not entirely devoid of winning moments (most of them coming in the film’s final half-hour) is a testament to Crowe’s talent, and in particular his way with a well-chosen cut of music. That the bulk of it fails so miserably, however, is a testament to his overconfidence, the feeling that he could coast on one or two aspects of his talent without having to worry about the rest of them. Getting Elton John to belt out a few lines just where you want him to is nice, but it doesn’t make a film.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12837&reviewer=385
originally posted: 11/01/05 00:43:19
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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

4/05/16 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
2/21/14 Bgpstiag 99 unlimited streaming and binary options australia turn it into something bigger., <a href 5 stars
2/19/14 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
7/01/10 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
2/21/10 Cat Garbage on every leve. As a chick it is ofensive. Orlando Bloom is wooden in this film. 1 stars
1/25/10 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
7/18/09 Meg WORST. EVER. 1 stars
11/03/08 Will sucked balls. 1 stars
10/25/08 John McCarthy I had to give up half way through and read angry reviews to feel normal again 1 stars
8/21/08 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
4/25/08 Roz Couldn't stand it. Boring on so many levels. 1 stars
4/09/07 Jessie Lee Good film... Not perfect, but not the horrid trash some may lead you to believe. 3 stars
3/10/07 Dominic Rubbish - and this is from someone who is an unabashed Almost Famous fan 1 stars
10/22/06 meredith the feel of the movie was fantastic but the plot was a little piontless but i loved the dia 4 stars
8/25/06 Joe Chris Parry's review is more amusing than the film. Watch "Jerry Maguire" again instead. 2 stars
8/14/06 Ashley Hinz Strange little movie, but fine. 4 stars
5/19/06 Christine Wilbik Boring, lost interest in the movie immediately 2 stars
3/25/06 Thomas Semesky A film that I liked, but I can understand why others wouldn't 3 stars
3/14/06 Michelle D Just read Chris Parry's review. 1 stars
3/12/06 Roderick Cromar Really not good. It's difficult either to believe the plot or to sympathise with the leads. 2 stars
2/27/06 Kevin Smith Orlando Bloom is not a good actor 1 stars
2/25/06 Murray Snowdon total and utter waste of time - pathetic 1 stars
2/23/06 ES Didn't hate it, didn't love it. Re-watchability 0% 3 stars
12/21/05 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
11/08/05 kammie love love loved it!!! 5 stars
11/08/05 tanja some good ideas and curious dialogues mixed with poor acting 3 stars
11/06/05 rod james Total boring rubbish 1 stars
11/05/05 Laura petersen one of my favorites, more of a chick flick and im not even a orlando fan 5 stars
10/23/05 GiR It was adorable..but not worth paying to see it..good thing I work at a movie theatre. 4 stars
10/23/05 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
10/22/05 jay straight forward poop 1 stars
10/22/05 baseball-nut I didn't care for it, but my wife liked it considering she's an Orlando Bloom fan! 3 stars
10/21/05 Boombala Hey If Kirsten Dunst's head exploded, would it affect her acting? 1 stars
10/20/05 john mills The Congo of romance. Simply awful!!! 1 stars
10/20/05 Bri really, really good! definately worth watching 5 stars
10/19/05 odditie Please make better decisions Orlando! 1 stars
10/18/05 Steve Michaud Even "lesser" Cameron Crowe is scads better than most of the stuff churned out these days. 4 stars
10/18/05 Ron Sandvick Excellent and fun 5 stars
10/17/05 Ryan Possibly a movie that non-20somethings just won't get. Understandably. 4 stars
10/16/05 ajay man, there's a lot of people down on Cameron Crowe. It's not a bad flick. 3 stars
10/16/05 jeff just stupid!!! 1 stars
10/15/05 Cara Undoubtedly, this is the worst movie I have ever seen in my entire 54 years of existence. 1 stars
10/15/05 Tommy Adams Left me speechless, as few moviews have. Loved it! 5 stars
10/14/05 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
10/11/05 Alonso Duralde Horrible! Cutesy/phony/precious/fartsy—maybe even worse than "Vanilla Sky." Avoid! 1 stars
10/10/05 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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