The pilot has turned off the “no gushing” sign and we’ve got a go for “fanboy” adoration. The fact is I love Cameron Crowe. Maybe you don’t, maybe you’re a heartless type of fellow who’d kick a small puppy should it wander into your path. That’s fine if you are, I’m not judging you for that. I’m just saying don’t mess with this film “puppy kicker,” leave it for those of us who still have feelings.
I’ll clarify the Crowe crush before I get too deep. I loved Vanilla Sky and Almost Famous. Both were in my Top 10 lists for their respective years. I was lukewarm on Singles. I thought Jerry Maguire was over hyped. So that’s where I stand. If you add Elizabethtown to the mix I’ve thought the world of the man’s last three films.
Elizabethtown is a romantic comedy, a coming of age story, and a fond look at the south. It’s a portrait of America, it’s about life and death and family. Quite clearly it has a lot going on under the hood. You want me to take a shot at it? You want me to head down critic’s row for two seconds before my opus to Crowe’s genius begins? Yeah sure, why not? It’s a bit meandering, it leans a smidge too much on music and it’s a tad bit hokey.
I don’t even know if I believe the above statements, I just wanted to give the blood-thirsty their red meat for the day. The movie is about Drew (Orlando Bloom) finding out he’s become a complete failure at work the same day his father dies. His family asks him to travel down to Kentucky to retrieve the body and his journey begins. He meets a plucky flight attendant in Claire (Kirsten Dunst). Various family members and friends weave in and out. That’s all I’m giving you, that’s all you get. See it with fresh eyes and no expectations. Go in and enjoy truly great cinema because the opportunities are few and far between.
The fact is that Cameron Crowe knows that pain and joy are serpentine. He knows that expressions of true human joy are rare and they usually involve dancing and music. He knows he doesn’t have all the answers but he wants you to ask the questions. I’ve always felt like we’re lucky to have him, it’s far easier to make an angry mean-spirited film than a genuinely lovely one. Crowe takes the difficult route.
There is plenty of comedy too, wry and biting. Orlando and Kirsten do tremendous in challenging parts. You’ve got to suspend your disbelief a bit to enjoy the ride, but you should know going in that Vanilla Sky and Almost Famous are this film’s closest relatives as I alluded to before. If you found either of them tiresome this won’t hold much appeal, I’m sorry. Here’s your puppy. Go nuts.
For the rest of you, I demand you see this film if you’ve liked my recommendations before. It’s a wonderful peice of work and it deserves our patronage. Don’t let smarmy critics jade your view here. Choose hope. At the very least you’ll get a few laughs and some decent music purchase ideas. At the best you’ll see a film you won’t ever forget.