Elizabethtown

Film

Time Out says

Cameron Crowe's latest springs from a delayed reaction to his father's death in 1989. Given this undeniably talented director's willingness to mine his family's past (witness Frances McDormand's nervous mom in Almost Famous, dropping her rock-critic son off at a Sabbath concert with a cheery "Don't use drugs!"), Elizabethtown feels uniquely personal and very much in keeping with Crowe's style of nostalgia. Still, the film is so sodden with crinkly-eyed grief and the healing power of pop music, it's a structural mess; there's a great EP buried in here but Crowe is too enamored of his own whims to find it.

Orlando Bloom plays Drew, a young footwear designer working for a Nike-like corporation that's about to take a billion-dollar loss on his absurd creation, a sneaker with wings. Yanked out of his suicide attempt by a call—his father has died—Drew travels from Oregon to Kentucky as a representative of the family, a trip during which he meets a quirky stewardess (Dunst) and eventually regains his confidence.

Crowe has the nerve to believe that he can turn us on and off emotionally with an Elton John song—or the 34 other tunes that swell on the soundtrack at key moments. The technique is a bit like the one used in those schmaltzy cell-phone commercials, an echo amplified by the fact that much of the drama takes place during rambling, cord-free calls. Clearly, Crowe's intentions are warm ones; if you're not into his mix-tape filmmaking, however,they're bound to get lost in the shuffle.—Joshua Rothkopf

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