Monday, May 15, 2006


Have you ever started watching a movie you rented and wondered why you ever rented it in the first place because it was so slow starting out that it didn't seem to be going anywhere? That is how I felt when I started watching Elizabethtown.

I work a lot on my PC, so it is convenient to watch DVDs on it. The sound is not as good as I get from my big surround sound system, but the picture is great. It rivals or surpasses HDTV and it makes the picture quality as if I am seeing it on a small theater screen. I have a pretty decent 21 in. flat screen monitor, and I can actually see the grain in the film. It's that good. But enough about the pros and cons of PC DVD watching. I'm just trying to illustrate how Elizabethtown ended up sitting in my PC for several days before I took the time to finish it which leads me to this article.

First of all, it is a Cameron Crowe film whose writing and directing credits include Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous: all films that are funny, quirky, and romantic, a combination that has always won me over.

The film starts off almost too strange, which is why I lost interest in it to begin with. Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) is a very odd character who is responsible for the sudden downfall of a one billion-dollar shoe company, which effectively leaves him jobless. If that weren't enough, he soon gets the news after that his father has just died and, as his mother (Susan Sarandon) and sister are too distraught to go, it leaves him with the task to travel from Oregon to Elizabethtown, Kentucky to handle the funeral arrangements.

On his flight to Louisville of which Elizabethtown is a suburb, Drew, while trying to get some sleep, is nagged by bored and gregarious flight attendant Claire Colburn, played by Kirsten Dunst (who starred as the love interest in the Spiderman movies).

Once in Elizabethtown, Drew, used to the cold world of corporate America, finds himself overwhelmed by the warm reception he receives from the friends and family of his deceased father all of whom treat him as one of their own, yet to him they seem complete strangers.

That night, once back in the relative solace of his hotel suite in Louisville, which he has slyly charged to his now defunct corporate credit card, he calls several old girlfriends with whom he is forced to leave voicemail messages. While willing his telephone for someone to call back, he finds a piece of paper that Claire has written her phone number down in case he got lost on the way from Louisville to Elizabethtown.

In an effort to talk to someone, he calls her and after she answers, what ensues is what I found to be the first truly funny moment of the movie, as, while he is trying to hold a conversation with Claire, everyone he has called calls him back as well as his nerve-wracked sister, and he is forced to juggle everyone on the phone.

Claire is the last one left on the line, and she and Drew end up talking into the wee hours of the morning when Claire suggests that they meet halfway between Louisville and Elizabethtown to watch the sunrise. There is an instant attraction, which begins to enfold as the big mystery in the movie. Will the two get together?

All the while that Drew is coming to terms with dealing with the people of Elizabethtown, who had adored his father, Claire keeps showing up at the most surprising of moments and giving Drew bits of inspiration to help him through the ordeal, but it is never clear where their relationship is going.

Along the line, she points out that everyone in their life needs to take a road trip, which Drew never has, and as Drew and Claire say goodbye in Elizabethtown, she gives him a clasped box in which she tells him is a map, which he is not to open until he gets into his car to leave.

Once inside, Drew opens the container, and finds that Claire has mapped out for him a mile-by-mile hour-by-hour road trip from Elizabethtown to Oregon complete with special CDs made by her for him to play along the trip.

What ensues his probably the most poignant part of the movie as Drew reunites with his father through fond memories. "We should have taken this trip long ago," he tells his father who sits beside him as ashes in an urn.

It is a coming-of-age time for Drew and the big question is does Drew ever see Claire again and that must be answered by seeing the movie. If you like quirkiness marked by humor and romance and don't mind sitting through a two-hour movie, then Elizabethtown is for you. But be forewarned: it takes time to get to know the characters, but the wait is well worth it.


Blogger Rosa said...

hmmm, sounds like I may like it...if I can sit that long.

11:52 PM  

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