I’m not crazy, okay? I know Elizabethtown isn’t a good movie, by conventional standards. Or unconventional standards. It doesn’t make sense, there’s absolutely no chemistry between the leads, the dialogue is cringeworthy, it’s easy-breezy inspirational tone is so tone-deaf it’s almost offensive, and, worst of all, it criminally under-utilizes Paul Schneider. Despite all of this, I kind of love it.
This is mostly because Elizabethtown holds nothing but good memories for me. I saw it at the Princess Theatre in good old Oxford, Ohio, back in my days as a Miami undergraduate. My friends Liz, Sean, Dan and I had a great time because we made fun of the movie and got coffee afterwards. “Making fun of a movie and getting coffee” was my favorite activity in college, and hey have I mentioned to you guys that I’ve never been to even one frat party?
Anyway. There are a few important things you need to know about Elizabethtown, and none of them are the plot. I’ll give you a quick rundown, though. Orlando Bloom works for a shoe company (?) and I guess he makes some sort of shoe mistake (?) because his boss, Alec Baldwin, is all, “You and your bad haircut have lost me a lot of money, Orlando Bloom.”
So Orlando Bloom is going to kill himself via exercise bike, as you do, but then he gets a call from His Sister Judy Greer telling him that his dad died. So, naturally, he has to go to Kentucky to retrieve his dad’s body. Exercise bike suicide will have to wait for another day!
While on the flight to Kentucky, he meets a flight attendant named Claire. She is, as you may have guessed, played by the ebullient Kirsten Dunst. I genuinely think Kirsten Dunst is one of the best actresses of our generation, and I’ll stand by that assertion. What I really love is that if you talk to a girl around my age about Kirsten, she’ll be like, “Oh, you mean Kiki?” because when we were little, every teen magazine mentioned that was her nickname. I’m not saying this is Kiki’s best role, but that’s not her fault. She was working with what she had.
The rest of the movie is just Orlando Bloom and Kiki connecting while he “deals with” (ignores) the fact that his dad’s dead.
As you’ve probably heard, Kiki is quirky in this movie. She’s not that bad, but she’s just not a realistic (or fleshed out) character. She also lives in a pile of magazines.
There’s one long montage set to a Ryan Adams song where Orlando Bloom and Kiki talk on the phone. What do they talk about? We’ll never know! We just have to imagine their connection. Thank you, Cameron Crowe, for allowing us to use our imaginations.
What’s she saying? IT’S A SECRET!
Kiki also pretend-photographs things (again, why? No one knows!):
Cameron Crowe also engages in what I call “emotional cheating” by using emotionally charged songs instead of actually, you know, writing a movie that would make us feel something. Like you know how some movies use the song “Hallelujah” and you begrudgingly end up crying? Elizabethtown does the same thing with Ryan Adams songs. Of course we’re going to feel some warm, sunset-drenched American nostalgia if you play “Come Pick Me Up.” It’s not fair.
The single most important thing about Elizabethtown is that it stars Paula Deen. Yes, stars. If you have any negative feelings about Paula Deen because of her questionable diabetes-fueled decisions in the past year, first off, you need to check yourself at the door (the door to this blog, I mean) because she is amazing. Secondly, you need to read her autobiography, It Ain’t All About the Cookin’. Trust me, you’ll start to understand her a lot more. She’s great in this movie just by being herself, and for some reason, I really love to think of her interacting with Orlando Bloom. It just makes me happy.
The other important thing to know about Elizabethtown is that it features the wonderful Paul Schneider. The fact that he can seem so unattractive here is truly a testament to his skill as an actor, because he is anything but unattractive in real life.
Also of importance: Susan Sarandon is fantastic with terrible material. She has to give a long speech at a funeral (or, like, memorial with a stage? I don’t know) and then she has to tapdance. Tapdance! And THIS scene happens:
I can’t believe we, as a country, subjected Susan Sarandon to that.
I’m not really saying this is the best movie. I’m not even saying it’s a good movie. But if you don’t understand why some people kind of like it, well, take a look at this picture:
There are some good things about it.
Also, like I said before, Elizabethtown reminds me of fun times…those days in college where I had very, very few responsibilities and my favorite thing to do was have a completely sober movie night with my friends. It didn’t even matter what we watched. Even if it was a terrible Orlando Bloom vehicle, it was still great.
And, as it turns out, I have pictorial proof of my friends doing their best Kiki impressions:
Thanks for existing, Elizabethtown. You’re terrible but I love you anyway.