Friday, September 01, 2006

Ever liked something the night before then hated yourself the next day?

That title represents how I felt about Cameron Crowe's film Elizabethtown. I watched it last night and really enjoyed it while it was on. However, waking up this morning, I realized it was just okay.

Top 5 Cameron Crowe films
1. Jerry Maguire
2. Say Anything
3. Singles
4. Elizabethtown
5. Almost Famous

Elizabethtown has a bit of a storied past. Originally Ashton Kutcher was given the lead role. He was fired because of a lack of chemistry with co-star Kirsten Dunst but the rumour is that he was fired because Crowe didn't realize how weak of an actor he was.

Orlando Bloom took over the lead role and since the movie's release Crowe has been trying to sell people on the fact that he had written the role for Bloom all along who originally could not have done it due to scheduling conflicts. Yeah, so we are to believe that Crowe wrote this movie about an american guy going back to meet his father's family in Kentucky after the sudden death of his pa for a British actor who had never before done a film using an american accent or had never done a film set in modern times. Yeah, right!

Getting to the film, it starts off with a bang which is probably why the rest of the film fooled me. Alec Baldwin has one of those great cameos where he momentarily takes over the film as the CEO of a shoe company cleared modeled after Phil Knight of Nike.

It seems Bloom's character (Drew Baylor) has created a shoe that is such a disaster, it will end up costing the company $972 million dollars. A number so big, Baldwin's character explains, that it could actually be rounded up to a billion dollars.

Baylor is selected to be the fall guy for the shoe's failure and based on this decides to commit suicide. A phone call interrupts his suicide attempt and he is asked by his mom and sister to head to Kentucky to bring his recently dead father's ashes back to Omaha.

On the flight, he meets a way too cute and way too perky stewerdess named Claire Colburn who decides it is her goal to help Baylor get over his business failings and the death of his father. The movie than moves towards romantic comedy as Colburn and Baylor basically "meet cute" for the rest of the film.

The ending of the film requires Baylor to go on a long road trip with a scrap book and CDs put together by Colburn. She literally had to have quit her job and spent over a week creating this package but if you can accept that...the film has a decent yet predictable ending.

According to Roger Ebert, when he saw the original cut of the film at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, it was 18 minutes longer. Most of that time spent on that road trip. In his review from October of that year, he says, "The new version is 18 minutes shorter, and more than 18 percent better". Since I already felt that the road trip stuff was already too long as it was, I have no reason to disagree with his analysis.

As with all of Crowe's films, there is wall to wall music. And, as with all of his films, he always makes interesting choices. For instance, one scene has the song Big Love by Fleetwood Mac in the background. Not the album version which is a little too poppy with a dumb ending that has Mac members Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Knicks breathing hard for the last 60 seconds of the song. But the version which is just Buckingham singing alone with an accoustic guitar from Fleetwood Mac's MTV Unplugged CD The Dance. A nice choice that makes me realize that Crowe probably uses music better in his films than any other director on the planet. Think about Tom Cruise running in the airport in Jerry Maguire with Springsteen's Secret Garden in the background. Or that iconic image of John Cusack in Say Anything with the stereo over his head playing Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes.

Some of the film's scenes harken back to Crowe's masterwork Jerry Maguire but really the film is just too cute, filled with too many quirky characters and in the end really doesn't mean all that much. Crowe does like making romantic comedies but his writing style works well for kids in high school (ie Say Anything or Fast Times At Ridgemont High) but with adult actors such as Bloom and Dunst, most of the dialogue rings kind of silly.



Post a Comment

<< Home