People make mistakes every day, and anybody can accomplish a failure. But a fiasco, now, that takes time and effort. Just ask Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom). After slaving away at a desk-level job for eight years attempting to create the perfect prototype athletic shoe, his dream has finally become a reality. However, the reality soon becomes a nightmare as millions of his shoes are recalled and his Oregon-based company is devastated. Naturally, Baylor’s 972 million dollar debacle costs him his job, his on-again-off-again girlfriend (Jessica Biel) and his will to live. But just before he is able to end it all, he receives word that his father, while visiting relatives in Kentucky, has suffered a fatal heart attack.
Drew’s mother, Hollie, (Susan Sarandon) insists she cannot travel to Kentucky because of bad blood between her and her husband’s side of the family, so Drew is delegated the responsibility of dealing with the specifics.
While on the plane to Louisville (that’s Loo-uh-vull) Drew meets Claire Coburn (Kirsten Dunst), a talkative flight attendant, who takes a liking to poor Drew and adopts him as a personal project. Vivacious and optimistic, Claire provides much-needed comfort for Drew’s troubled spirit. And as Drew sifts through his father’s affairs and deals with his overly friendly relatives, he not only finds Claire an understanding friend but becomes attached to her warm nature and aggressive hospitality.
Unlike most movies with loaded casts, this one does not end up a train wreck. The filmmakers do not try to fit as many well-known actors and actresses in as many scenes as they can. In fact, Jessica Biel and Alec Baldwin have extremely limited roles, though their brief screen time stays with the viewer throughout. The other notable characters work well together, and the filmmakers’ choice to not include all of them together in any one scene was an exceptional idea.
Together, Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst make a perfect couple. The two’s relationship is strictly playful and friendly, no overly passionate moments. However, it is made clear they are crazy about each other by the end of the film.
I’m not sure I would classify Elizabethtown as a comedy, but it has its funny moments. Quirky humor abounds throughout the film, ranging from Drew’s mother making a very politically incorrect comment at her husband’s memorial dinner to a preschool-aged kid and his hilarious antics. Other funny moments include a couple of dogs snatching the Sunday turkey to an over-the-top bachelor party.
One very emotional scene towards the end of the movie shows Drew as he drives all the way home, with only his father’s ashes to accompany him. Claire has made him an unbelievably precise map that takes him all the way back to Oregon, complete with historical landmarks at which he is supposed to stop, and music selections for every step of the way. As he nears his destination, however, Claire makes a life-changing proposition to Drew.
Overall, Elizabethtown will win over its viewers with its quirky humor and original screenplay. Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst are terrific, and Susan Sarandon is excellent in a rare supporting role. Contrary to popular belief, this is no chick flick. It tackles real-life issues, not just how and where and with whom you fall in love with. Drew must overcome a major setback in his professional life, and at the same time mourn a father he hardly knew. All pieced together, Elizabethtown makes for a genuine, lighthearted melodrama. 4 stars.