Drew Taylor (Orlando Bloom) walks into work a failure. The shoe company
he works for marketed what was supposed to be a revolutionary new design he
came up with, only to end up having ALL of them recalled for undisclosed
reasons. His boss Phil (Alec Baldwin) not only takes away Drew's job,
but asks him to publicly take the fall for the company's $1 billion loss.
To make matters even worse his girlfriend Ellen (Jessica Biel) seems to no
longer have interest in him either. Drew heads home ready to end his
life, since there's not much point in living anymore, but just before he can
see it through the phone rings. His sister (Judy Greer) informs him that
their dad has died, and his mom (Susan Sarandon) needs him to handle the
funeral arrangements with the other side of their family. He decides to
postpone his suicide long enough to help. Along the way he meets an
enthusiastic flight attendant named Claire (Kirsten Dunst), who seems to take
more than a passing interest in him. He reunites with his dad's family
and friends, who don't want cremation to be considered, despite the man's
dying wishes. Drew faces one personal struggle after another, causing
him to revaluate his life, and seriously consider the importance of lost time
with loved ones.
It's easy to say that writer/director Cameron Crowe knows a few things about
the human condition. This film is unique and unusual, but at the same
time so very familiar. We can see some of ourselves in Drew, and
sympathize with his feelings throughout the various experiences. Orlando
Bloom does a fine job of becoming this young American man rushed into a life
of success, and subsequent downfall. Kirsten Dunst is pretty good too as
the quirky voice of reason for our hero. The film is filled with fun
supporting characters, all of which work rather well within the story.
Susan Sarandon is used sparingly, but has some really great moments as the
mother who isn't quite sure how to deal with the loss of her husband.
Judy Greer also feels very real as Drew's neurotic sister. I
particularly liked Paul Schneider as Drew's cousin Jessie, who can't seem to
let go of his younger band days long enough to bond with his own son.
Also providing some fantastic comic relief is Jed Rees as Chuck, a
consistently drunken newlywed sharing the same hotel floor as Drew. Then
there's the stunning Jessica Biel, who briefly gets a chance to play a less
than lovable girlfriend here. Man, I could stare at her for days... oh,
sorry, back to the review. Some of the scenes where Drew walks into a
big family dinner will almost certainly seem recognizable to you. There
are random point of view shots that quite literally take us into Drew's
movie makes great use of music, as do most Crowe films. The soundtrack
truly enhances each moment, adding extra levels of enjoyment to this personal
story. Overall the film is done very nicely. It's one of those
human interest dramas, some might consider disguised as a romantic comedy.
But don't let the trailers fool you. This movie is about Drew's
emotional journey and self-evaluation. It begs the question, when you've
missed out on important moments in life, and encountered massive failure in
what you do, is it ever too late to turn things around? In some ways
this reminds me of a John Hughes film from the 80's, especially since it's
familiarity to American life comes across so naturally. The film runs a
hair over two hours, and though the "finale" seems a tad drawn out, it's still
a great effort in the end. I like it when Cameron Crowe does these types
of personal stories. JERRY MAGUIRE and ALMOST FAMOUS
showed us the man can weave an interesting tale, though VANILLA SKY may
have been too much of a departure from his strengths. ELIZABETHTOWN
just works. It's nothing fancy or overwhelming, and it's probably not
his strongest flick, but in the end this slice of American life is totally
worth a look.
BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of
1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give ELIZABETHTOWN a 9.
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