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Elizabethtown (1/10)

by Tony Medley

When you check in to a romantic comedy and learn that it’s more than two hours long, you know you’re in for an excruciating experience, probably with a guy directing his own script. Sure enough, directing this stinker is Cameron Crowe directing Cameron Crowe’s script, produced by Cameron Crowe (along with his buddy Tom Cruise).

The problems are many; words without meaning, characters without purpose, a film without a premise. Orlando Bloom finally got a role for which he was born, a short, skinny wimp, instead of the superhero warriors he laughably played in two other stinkers, “Troy” (2004) and “Kingdom of Heaven” (2005). He’s teamed with Kirsten Dunst who goes through the entire movie with an enigmatic smile on her face, as if she knows something nobody else knows. But I know what it is. She knows she’s being paid a lot of money acting in a bomb, laughing all the way to the bank.

The apparent story (hey, it’s so long and disjointed that to call this a story is a stretch) is that Drew Baylor (Bloom) is sent by his mother, Hollie Baylor (Susan Sarandon) and family, back to a small town called Elizabethtown to bring back his deceased father. Who died, that’s why he’s deceased. On the plane back he is apparently the only passenger so for some unknown reason he’s hit on by an obnoxious stewardess, Claire Colburn (Dunst). From that shaky start it just gets worse and longer. Sitting through this movie gives one an impression of how long eternity might be.

Rarely will you ever see a romantic duo with less chemistry than Bloom and Dunst. Maybe the big smile Kirsten has on her face after their scenes together is that the kissing is finally over and she can go home for the day.

There’s good news and bad news about Sarandon. The good news is that for the first time in several mediocre movies, she doesn’t flash her breasts, about which she is so proud. Apparently someone got her the word that 50-year-old breasts aren’t the same as 20-year-old breasts in the sex appeal department. The bad news is that she takes the stage at the end of the movie for a tawdry monologue in extremely poor taste, which she concludes with a tap dance, that she learned in the, what, three days since her hubby died. Don’t ask why she would be doing this. If you’re smart you’ll never find out, nor will you have to watch this deplorable dance. Flashing her breasts is a better idea.

The fact that she’s onstage at this shindig for her hubby is just one of the many plot points that defy credulity. One of the others is that when Drew is coming back home with his old man’s ashes (after we watch the old man be buried; explain that!) he is following an itinerary drawn up by Hollie that would have taken a real person at least a year to devise, so labyrinthine and organized is it. So many questions rush to the mind after surviving this two hour ordeal, to wit: Why would Hollie do this? When did she have the time? Why is Drew driving across country when he flew back to pick up the old man? Can one new sneaker really cost a company $1 billion? How could anyone have read this script and agreed to finance this movie?

October 10, 2005