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Cameron Crowe’s latest film a letdown

Liz Byrum | Wednesday, October 26, 2005

If you’ve never had the desire to head out on a road trip, you will after seeing writer-director Cameron Crowe’s newest film, “Elizabethtown.” However, aside from an itch to travel, a few laugh-out-loud moments and an interesting concept, the movie may leave audience members slightly disappointed.

“Elizabethtown” is about a young man named Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) who blows eight years of his professional life and shortly after finds out his father has suddenly passed away.

On his venture to fulfill his father’s last wishes in Elizabethtown, a small Kentucky town, Drew meets a quirky flight attendant name Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst), who helps him turn his life around. Through a series of crazy events, Drew comes to find new meaning in his life.

Crowe is a talented director whose previous films include “Almost Famous” and “Jerry Maguire,” but for all of the potential in “Elizabethtown,” the means rarely lead to an end.

A scattering of well thought-out scenes and a few choice moments carry the film, but nothing ties them together into a completely coherent picture.

Orlando Bloom takes on his first leading part out of elf ears and off pirate ships. The character of Drew Baylor gave Bloom a complex role to fill, and he seemed quite comfortable with the job.

Although his performance may not be Oscar-worthy, it definitely shows the Bloom deserves the respect he has received in recent years from members of the film community, as well as from his adoring fans.

Unlike Bloom, who has just begun to explore modern leading roles, Dunst seems to be doing the same old thing. Dunst is playing a “character” she is very familiar with – herself. As Claire, the odd yet loveable young flight attendant, she spits out cheesy lines as “I’m impossible to forget, but I’m hard to remember.” Though some of her lines might be a stretch, she doesn’t seem to be stretching her acting abilities at all.

The supporting actresses in “Elizabethtown” also highlight both the high and low points of the film. Veteran actress Susan Sarandon plays a fairly small part, but proves she is still the true leading lady as she steals the show in her role as the neurotic grieving widow.

On the other end of the spectrum is Jessica Biel who plays the part of Ellen, a stuck-up employee of the company Drew worked for and his recent ex-girlfriend.

Although she has been praised as one of Hollywood’s next top actresses, the only list her role in “Elizabethtown” will top is most monotonous performance. Even an evil ex-girlfriend who is in a movie for all of five minutes should show a few signs of life, something that could definitely not be seen in Biel.

One of the things that makes “Elizabethtown” a more respectable film is the soundtrack. Each song seemed to fall at exactly the right moment, and accentuated the mood of the scenes better than a lot of movies do.

With a variety of music ranging from the recent breakout band, My Morning Jacket (“Where to Begin”), to classics like Tom Petty (“It’ll All Work Out”), there seemed to be a little something for everyone.

Overall, Crowe’s film provides laughs, touching moments, a good soundtrack and a sense of spontaneity, but falls short of anything amazing.