Claire: I’m impossible to forget, but I’m hard to remember.
It’s funny that this quote is from this movie, because I sort of feel that way about its co-stars. Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst are both very pretty, but generally rather forgettable. I was interested in seeing Bloom in a role that didn’t require swashbuckling, and being a tad narcissistic, I enjoy that the movie sports my name in the title (sad, but true). So I said “OK, Netflix, let’s do this!”
What’s It All About?
Orlando Bloom plays Drew, a young sneaker-designer whose groundbreaking design ends up backfiring, being recalled, and costing the company nearly a billion dollars in damages. He consequently gets fired, and the overwhelming nature of his failure leads to a decision to commit a rather spectacular suicide involving a carving knife and an exercise bike. Before he can do the deed, however, his sister (Judy Greer, the queen of supporting roles) calls and informs him his father has died while on a trip home visiting his family. As the oldest son, Drew needs to go meet the family and organize his father’s funeral. He decides he will take care of this, and attend to his own end when he returns. But his means to an end are thrown upside down when he reunites with his father’s warm family – and UNites with a quirky flight attendant named Claire.
Super supporting cast: This film had a bunch of surprise supporting stars who all have a lot of cred: Alec Baldwin as the sneaker mogul who fires Drew, Susan Sarandon and the aforementioned Greer as Drew’s mom and sister, Paul Schneider as his slacking musician cousin… PLUS some unconventional actors – Loudon Wainwright III and Paula Deen both show up as uncle and aunt. Love it!
Soundtrack: The soundtrack was apparently handpicked by director Cameron Crowe, and it compliments the movie beautifully. A great mix of modern stuff for the central characters (My Morning Jacket, Ryan Adams) and some more classic country and rock which befits its Kentucky setting and Drew’s family (Elton John, Nancy Wilson, Patty Griffin). Also, um, Paul Schneider can sing?? Yes, yes he can!
Dialogue: I enjoyed this script and the conversations between its characters. It felt quirky without feeling purposefully quirky. You know, naturally quirkly. Quirky!
Not So Much…
The Leads: It’s basically like I said initially: It’s not that they are horrible performers. But Bloom and Dunst don’t carry a film for me. Especially when Bloom lacks breeches and his native accent. Dunst is slightly better in the film. I think this “different” sort of movie and character suits her better than a classic ingenue, where she REALLY disappears. Also, Bloom has creepy facial hair. That being said, they worked well together, and were very believable as a couple. But then vanilla tastes very good with another scoop of vanilla.
I found this film pretty enjoyable. But twenty minutes into it, I realized Netfix had tricked me. I was not watching a romantic comedy! True, Elizabethtown has comedy. And it has romance. But it isn’t REALLY about the central couple, it’s about the central guy. Which is great! But why did we call it a rom-com? Is it one? Was it just buried so much in unconventional stuff that I didn’t see the normal features of a rom com? But then….what IS a conventional rom com and why specifically did Elizabethtown not seem to fit?
I can’t totally answer this, because I don’t know what the exact “rules” are to classify a romantic comedy. For this movie, it was just a gut feeling I was going with, and frankly I was surprised that the romantic couple had a happy ending (I had guessed Drew would wind up single at the end as it seemed mostly about his journey). Maybe it’s simply that we didn’t spend as much time with the couple that led me astray. Maybe there needed to be more of a balance between the focus on the romance and the focus on the family relationship.
But if that happened, we may not have gotten THIS:
And that was just gold for me.