DVD Review: Elizabethtown (Widescreen Edition)
by R.J. Carter
Published: February 8, 2006
There was a young man who lived in a shoe.
Drew (Orlando Bloom) has spent the last eight years of his life designing the perfect shoe for a large company, at the expense of family and socialization. Today, Drew has just learned that the entire project is a flop. Rather, it is a "fiasco" that is about to lose the company one billion dollars. Fired by his boss (Alec Baldwin in a minor role), Drew rigs his exercise bike to be a suicide machine.
But before Drew can kill himself, he gets a phone call: his father has just died while visiting his side of the family in Kentucky and, as the oldest, Drew needs to go take care of matters. And then get back to killing himself, of course.
On his flight out, he meets Claire (Kirsten Dunst) who coaches him on the pronunciation of Louisville and draws him a map to where he's going. She's a chatty sort, and all Drew wants is to be left alone. She's the overly helpful type, all the way off the plane and into the concourse... and into his life.
Elizabethtown, Kentucky is the real star of this show. It's the kind of town I'd like to live in. Hell, it's the kind of town I did live in -- I've even heard "Freebird" played at a funeral! But here, Drew is a stranger in a strange land, surrounded by country values and close-knit family bonds that he accepts with grace and dignity. They all treat him like royalty -- they loved his dad, and they have no idea that the shoe genius has just been disgraced.
Settling into his hotel room, needing to talk, he phones several people out of boredom, including Claire (of course she left him her number) with whom he spends an all-night phone session that's bound to have made Cingular happy since they were both on cell phones (or maybe it was a Saturday and they took the company for a mobile-to-mobile ride!)
Claire and Drew classify themselves as "temporary
people" in Cameron Crowe's "Elizabethtown".
R-L: DUNST, BLOOM
Between making arrangements for his father's funeral, dealing with the other 99% of the residents of his hotel who are all there for the wedding of Chuck and Cindy, and deciding just exactly what his feelings are for Claire, Drew plods along slowly, much like the plot. Finally, at the memorial service when everyone in town delivers a personal eulogy, and in which Drew's mother (Susan Sarandon) comes into her own, Drew receives a present from Claire: a special map for a special road trip. Rather than fly home, Drew is going to drive his father's ashes back to Oregon, to have them scattered at sea. But along the trip (the longest ending to a movie, ever, perhaps) Drew's stops (plotted out by Claire, who also provides a perfectly timed soundtrack) becomes a journey of self-discovery, and dear old dad becomes a part of many places of America. And the final destination for Drew turns out to be a surprise he never expected.
Part "Sweet Home Alabama" but played with a sort of brat-pack verve by Bloom and Dunst, "Elizabethtown" can be a bit of a snooze. The characters, mostly southern, are interesting, down home people (Food Network fans watch for Paula Deen to take on a semi-major role) who exude an easiness of living that's hard not to want to emulate. There are a decent handful of entertaining moments, romantic moments, deep and thoughtful moments. But even at 123 minutes, it could have been maybe a few moments shorter and got to the point a little better.
Drew learns more than he wanted to know about his
R-L: DEEN, BLOOM
Kicking soundtrack, though.
The Special Features include behind the scenes segments, as well as the full-length version of "Rusty's Learning to Listen, Part 8", the videotape that gets played during the movie that captures the children's attention, and an eight minute session with Russell in Memphis, hearing stories about Albert King and Earnestine.
Previews on this disc include "Ferris Beuller's Day Off" - Bueller... Bueller... Edition, Charmed the Complete Third Season, "Yours, Mine & Ours", and "Aeon Flux".
The film can be set to play in English 5.1 Surround, English 2.0 Surround and French, with subtitles in English or Spanish (once again proving there's no figuring these DVD setup technicians -- shouldn't the subtitles match up with the available languages?)
"Training Wheels" (2:17)
"Meet the Crew" (2:36)
"Rusty's Learning to Listen Part 8" (3:35)
"Hanging with Russell in Memphis" (7:27)
Theatrical Trailer: Bad Day (2:32)
Theatrical Trailer: Drew (2:57)