Son of a Mitch

“As somebody once said, there’s a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is simply the non-presence of success. Any fool can accomplish failure. But a fiasco… A fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions. A fiasco is a folktale told to others that makes other people feel more alive because it didn’t happen to them.”

These are the thoughts of Drew “I’m fine” Baylor (Orlando Bloom), who designed a pair of shoes which resulted in fiasco. The shoe company lost a lot of money (nearing billion dollars) and Drew is fired as a consequence. So it seems there’s nothing left for Drew to do but to kill himself. But before he rides his self-constructed suicidal bike, he gets a call from his sister. Her news: their dad Mitchell is dead.

Drew stalls his own death to arrange his dad’s funeral. He boards a plane bound for Louisville, where he cutely meets a chatty flight attendant named Claire (the radiant Kirsten Dunst). Once on land, he drives to Elizabethtown, where he encounters his barely-known relatives and his father’s “whimsical” corpse.

I’ll be upfront. I deliberately avoided this movie due bad buzz (a rotten 28% in RT). But I saw this on a recent browse in the library. So I checked it out, satisfying my curiosity without spending a penny. Besides, it seemed enough time has passed since the movie’s hyped “failure/fiasco” that I can finally watch this movie without lingering influences.

Orlando Bloom was adequate and handsome in the lead role. He’s not that horrible as to destroy the film, but better actors could have been cast. I could see Ryan Gosling or Jake Gyllenhaal taking this role into the next level. It also doesn’t help Bloom that Kirsten Dunst is so wonderfully alive (sometimes freaky) as his love interest. She practically hijacks the movie away from him. Sometimes I think the love connection between Drew and Claire is weaker than between Claire and the movie audience.

But I gotta admit that I liked the movie. “Elizabethtown” attempts to charm you, wants to beat close to your heart. Most of the time, it succeeds. I confess it’s not a great film, but it’s still more enjoyable than most movies. Cameron Crowe is one of our best and indispensable directors. He has a knack for memorable lines and superb soundtrack selections. Those talents are all present in the film, but Crowe’s ability to create a delectable and blossoming romance is the best. The scenes between Drew and Claire are what make the movie sing. Other scenes, while still good, should’ve been silenced. “Elizabethtown” carries a bit of dead weight because it crams a lot of stuff. And when there are lots of stuff, organization becomes a challenging goal. This is where the movie gets in trouble. Sometimes, the film appears to be unfocused, lost, and aimless. But I guess the movie matches its main character that way, no? At least, the movie offers some valuable life lessons one can learn. I may just tuck “Elizabethtown” in my back pocket and keep it as a motivational map. Life is tricky to navigate as it is. I hope I don’t end up in Fiascotown.

Grade: B+

Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, Bruce McGill, Judy Greer, Jessica Biel, and Paul Schneider
Screenplay by
Cameron Crowe
Directed by
Cameron Crowe
Rated PG-13 for language and some sexual references