Elizabethtown Cameron Crowe

Cameron Crowe has always been the go-to guy for emotionally-driven films featuring carefully selected soundtracks, underdog lead characters and, best of all, romantic instances that are relatable to much of the movie-going public. Yeah, so Vanilla Sky was pretty out there in its far-reaching, soul-searching patterns, but underneath it laid a beautiful snapshot of a heart-wrenching love story that guaranteed that Bob Dylan's "4th Time Around" was certified for any romantic mix-tape. Elizabethtown isn't anywhere near as challenging as Vanilla Sky, yet it certainly feels Crowe has lost his stroke. Again, he begins with an underdog scenario when corporate sneaker designer Drew (Orlando Bloom) drops the ball with an idea that costs his company a billion dollars and him his job. The moment he attempts a nasty, but comical, suicidal act, Drew learns of his dad's death and is forced to jump back into his life and handle his father's funeral arrangements back in small, ancestral Elizabethtown. While travelling, he meets Claire (Kirsten Dunst), a bubbly stewardess who magically changes his grim outlook. During his stay in the small town, Drew connects with his father's side of the family while gaining a sense of importance and falling, as expected, for his "not so distant" love interest. Not without its quirks (the performance of "Free Bird" with My Morning Jacket that ends in a startling blaze stands out) and a strong supporting cast (notably Paul Schneider and Susan Sarandon), Elizabethtown feels a little too trite and cluttered to enjoy, especially with Crowe's proven record. Were it a debut for some unknown writer/director, exceptions could be made, but the film feels lost in its point and wobbly in its focus. An exhausting road trip at the end of the film fulfils Crowe's flair for mixing music with impending sentiment, as it drags on forever, with an eye-rolling series of pit stops for Drew to realise something important and set up a foreseeable romantic encounter. To nitpick further, Bloom is terribly miscast as the lead, displaying a sizeable lack of charisma and presence, while Dunst borders on maddening annoyance. Elizabethtown's a mess, oh yes, and the two-hour running time that feels twice as long doesn't help. It's no wonder Crowe didn't bother providing a commentary — he probably couldn't sit through it again, let alone talk about it. Plus: featurettes, extended scenes, gallery. (Paramount)