If I could use the appropriate words to properly convey just how bad this movie is, this review would likely be a string of expletives so long that its power would reanimate Lenny Bruce. "Elizabethtown" is among the worst films I've ever seen. I walked out of the film missing part of my soul. If you are even considering seeing this abomination of creativity, you should jam a pencil in each eye. You'll save yourself a lot of pain.
Writer/director Cameron ("Jerry Maguire") Crowe's everyman is an executive named Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) who travels to Kentucky to recover his father's body. Drew designed a shoe, called "Spasmodica," responsible for losing his company a billion dollars -- making his character about as tangible as a space alien. I guess if you're Orlando Bloom, this is about the only way you're going to lose your confidence and ignore the hordes of women dropping their panties all around you like porn stars at an orgy.
Although Drew returns as the family's biggest success, he laments that it's just a matter of days before everyone knows he's a colossal failure. How that particular business failure falls solely on Drew's shoulders seems mildly amusing until it merely proves a set-up for a cathartic adventure into southern idiosyncrasies and small-town hokum that's laced with so much bad dialogue and insufferable cuteness that one wishes one could travel back in time and give the Union troops the benefit of tactical nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, to rectify this cosmic wrong, Crowe has Drew meet the solution to his every problem in the form of stewardess Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst). If only she had been on his marketing team. Claire is a cliché-spewing, superficial romantic hack who teaches Drew to love life as though she's auditioning for a voice-over role in a tampon commercial. Claire's platitude Olympics culminates with her sending Drew on a road trip to visit the site of Martin Luther King's murder and commenting, "Death was only the beginning of his victory." Just want I want: lessons on African American history from a flirty, white stewardess whose previous intellectual apex was waving her hands toward the emergency exits.
This film may set some kind of cinematic world record for inane conversation. After Drew and Claire's initial meeting, they spend about eight hours talking on their cell phones. It feels like we get to hear and watch every second of it. Claire, like some kind of retarded fairy, talks constantly about how she and Drew are "substitute" people. I think this is supposed to mean that they have significant others for whom they are merely temporary companions. However, after the fourth or fifth time she uses the term, I started to believe that it was really Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom's cry for help to be in some other film.
Anticipating the end of "Elizabethtown" is like waiting for an old car to die. You hope it stops running, but somehow it starts again and again and you drive, lamenting the fact you just can't get rid of the piece of junk. There's a whole extra road movie tacked onto the end of this heap. Most of that movie consists of Drew talking to his dead father's urn. It's like watching "My Dinner with Andre" without Andre. The movie becomes like an old woman who's put on so much perfume that one can only surmise that she's trying to cover up the smell of her own rotting flesh. I was, quite literally, limp in my seat -- like some character in a horror movie who's just had his spine ripped out -- praying to God to end my life as quickly as possible.
And speaking of wishing one's life to end, that's precisely how Susan Sarandon, who plays Drew's mother, must have felt in an excruciating eulogy scene. The scene drags on for what seems an eternity. Crowe could not have embarrassed and shamed Sarandon more if he simply had her depantsed.
Ironically, the film begins with a little speech from Drew about the difference between a failure and a fiasco. Quite honestly, I can't remember the details of that two-bit philosophy, but it's safe to say that a fiasco is a mythic failure. "Vanilla Sky" was a failure. "Elizabethtown" is clearly a fiasco.
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