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Unpopular Opinion: Elizabethtown

Jan. 12, 2012by: Alex Keen

Written by:Alex Keen

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

I am not a Cameron Crowe devotee. For the most part I enjoy his movies but I am in no way a die hard. When looking over his filmography I have a wide array of opinions about his work.

I believe that SAY ANYTHING is a classic. I like SINGLES more for the soundtrack than for the movie but feel it presents a sliver of 90s life. JERRY MAGUIRE is a bit too artificial for my tastes but I can understand why it is liked. ALMOST FAMOUS has some classic scenes that I will never forget; however, I cant seem to buy Kate Hudsons performance. And yet, to this day, ALMOST FAMOUS has forever made me a Billy Crudup fan. VANILLA SKY was a wonderful looking remake of ABRE LOS OJOS but seemed to be missing the soul of the original. Considering I havent seen this movie in almost a decade, I probably need to give it a revisit.

Which leads me to the film I am supporting. No, scratch that. The film I am going to heap praise on. Im here to tell you that I am enchanted by Cameron Crowes film, ELIZABETHTOWN. Slammed upon its release by critics calling it a fiasco and schmaltzy, ELIZABETHTOWN was a box office failure that died quickly and kept Crowes work off the screen for six years. Such a shame considering this film was just misunderstood.

At first I was hesitant to give ELIZABETHTOWN a shot. I skipped it in the theaters and the thought of seeing Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst making out in silly hats just wasnt my cup of tea. And then on a lark, I checked the film out on Netflix and had my pants charmed off. There are a multitude of excellent elements about this film that surprised me: the soundtrack, Kirsten Dunsts simple charm, Alec Baldwins ballsy comedy, and the genuine sadness at the core of the film.


"Don't I Hold You" - Wheat


Its no big surprise that a Cameron Crowe film has a tremendous soundtrack. He brought us some of the most epic scenes set to music of the past decade (In Your Eyes in SAY ANYTHING and Tiny Dancer in ALMOST FAMOUS). He delivers much of the same here. Cuts from Tom Petty, U2, and Elton John are classic Crowe tracks. Yet, its tracks from My Morning Jacket, The Temptations, and, my favorite, Wheat, that steal the show. Theres a ton to listen to in this movie and I can guarantee that one of these tracks will be stuck in your head for the next day or two.



The next surprise was a charmingly simple performance by Kirsten Dunst. Ill wholly admit to not liking Dunst in anything besides ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, VIRGIN SUICIDES, and MARIE ANTOINETTE (more on that in the future...). And yet, here she brings to the fore an adorably likable performance akin to something Id never thought I see. Shes playful, delightful, cute, and mature all in the same work. The scene where she sneaks up on Orlando Bloom in the hotel lobby is perfectly romantic, playful, and natural that it is liable to be stolen by lesser filmmakers. Dunst shines in this role and proves that she can play the romantic lead like an adult.



Having not seen this film for a year or two, I was shocked on my recent revisit by Alec Baldwins comedic performance. Just a couple years before 30 ROCK hit the air, Baldwin brings this movie into the world with a hilarious opening that definitely paved the way for his sitcom future. He plays a fantastic greedy corporate executive and frames the collapse of Orlando Blooms character perfectly.

Finally, the greatest surprise about this movie is that its not exactly a romantic comedy. ELIZABETHTOWN is more of drama about dealing with the loss of a loved one... with sparks of realistic comedy and romance tossed in. If you bring a first date to see this movie you might not get the result that you hoped for. ELIZABETHTOWN is intended to take us through the shared misery of failure and loss. And, at the end of that journey goodness can be found. Its not always pretty and it can sometimes be strange. But, at the end of the day, there are still many reasons to live.

Cameron Crowes journey through loss could have been cheesy and it could have been unrealistic. But for me ELIZABETHTOWN truly hits a chord. Sure, some wacky things happened in this movie... none of them are beyond reality. What I truly enjoy about this film was its honesty to characters and the larger story that would unfold.

Source: JoBlo.com

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4:42AM on 09/14/2012
It was too slow, too long and it gave me nothing, I think if this movie was cut in half the time, I may have enjoyed a bit.
It was too slow, too long and it gave me nothing, I think if this movie was cut in half the time, I may have enjoyed a bit.
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10:14PM on 01/12/2012
While I know it got lambasted upon it's release, it seems to have found it's niche on DVD. I for one thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and found this piece the best written 'Unpopular Opinion' yet. Huzzah!
While I know it got lambasted upon it's release, it seems to have found it's niche on DVD. I for one thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and found this piece the best written 'Unpopular Opinion' yet. Huzzah!
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6:24PM on 01/12/2012

Wow, I actually agree with this for once.

I adore this movie, always have. It was slightly disappointing the first time I saw it because I'd just seen Almost Famous a few days before. But the more I've revisited it, the more I've come to really like it. The last twenty minutes is sublime and made me wish that the rest of the movie sort of ran on that wavelength. But yeah, I've never disliked the movie.
I adore this movie, always have. It was slightly disappointing the first time I saw it because I'd just seen Almost Famous a few days before. But the more I've revisited it, the more I've come to really like it. The last twenty minutes is sublime and made me wish that the rest of the movie sort of ran on that wavelength. But yeah, I've never disliked the movie.
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5:06PM on 01/12/2012
The only thing I don't like about this movie is Orlando Bloom. He is not a bad actor, but it's completely miscast here.
The only thing I don't like about this movie is Orlando Bloom. He is not a bad actor, but it's completely miscast here.
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5:03PM on 01/12/2012
Also forgot to mention, WE NEED Crow's original director's cut of the film that he showed at Cannes I believe it was or it might have been TIFF....either way, more Elizabethtown would be a wonderful thing!
Also forgot to mention, WE NEED Crow's original director's cut of the film that he showed at Cannes I believe it was or it might have been TIFF....either way, more Elizabethtown would be a wonderful thing!
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4:47PM on 01/12/2012
a muddled film given the ones that came before it ELIZABETHTOWN seemed a like step backwards for Crowe. The films major failure is its inability to ground Dunst character in reality and actually delve into the subject of loss. VANILLA SKY which I consider his best was the tone that was missing from this film, it just never found the right balance. Dunst character while cute in the beginning by the end she's become a caricature of the best one night hookup, the siren of any guys dream. But
a muddled film given the ones that came before it ELIZABETHTOWN seemed a like step backwards for Crowe. The films major failure is its inability to ground Dunst character in reality and actually delve into the subject of loss. VANILLA SKY which I consider his best was the tone that was missing from this film, it just never found the right balance. Dunst character while cute in the beginning by the end she's become a caricature of the best one night hookup, the siren of any guys dream. But above all ELIZABETHTOWN still stands as Crowe's best soundtrack.
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4:47PM on 01/12/2012
a muddled film given the ones that came before it ELIZABETHTOWN seemed a like step backwards for Crowe. The films major failure is its inability to ground Dunst character in reality and actually delve into the subject of loss. VANILLA SKY which I consider his best was the tone that was missing from this film, it just never found the right balance. Dunst character while cute in the beginning by the end she's become a caricature of the best one night hookup, the siren of any guys dream. But
a muddled film given the ones that came before it ELIZABETHTOWN seemed a like step backwards for Crowe. The films major failure is its inability to ground Dunst character in reality and actually delve into the subject of loss. VANILLA SKY which I consider his best was the tone that was missing from this film, it just never found the right balance. Dunst character while cute in the beginning by the end she's become a caricature of the best one night hookup, the siren of any guys dream. But above all ELIZABETHTOWN still stands as Crowe's best soundtrack.
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4:07PM on 01/12/2012
Yep, its on my top 100, I actually love this movie.
Yep, its on my top 100, I actually love this movie.
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2:28PM on 01/12/2012
One of my favorite movies and yes it is very [link] someone else who enjoys the flick!
One of my favorite movies and yes it is very [link] someone else who enjoys the flick!
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1:31PM on 01/12/2012
Great article, Alex. You hit the nail on the head about Dunst's performance. It's a good little flick.
Great article, Alex. You hit the nail on the head about Dunst's performance. It's a good little flick.
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1:31PM on 01/12/2012

The two leads

The problem with this film all boils down to the two leads- both of whom are fatally miscast. Bloom is far too pretty, and doesn't seem to have the same kind of inner life a pro like Tom Cruise can suggest. If this had been made in 1989 and starred Cruise, people would think it's a classic. As for Dunst, Crowe tried to mold her into a variation on Shirley McClaine's character from THE APARTMENT, who's essentially the first ever manic-pixie-diream girl, albeit one with a lot of depth- being
The problem with this film all boils down to the two leads- both of whom are fatally miscast. Bloom is far too pretty, and doesn't seem to have the same kind of inner life a pro like Tom Cruise can suggest. If this had been made in 1989 and starred Cruise, people would think it's a classic. As for Dunst, Crowe tried to mold her into a variation on Shirley McClaine's character from THE APARTMENT, who's essentially the first ever manic-pixie-diream girl, albeit one with a lot of depth- being suicidal, attracted to the wrong kinds of men, etc. Dunst plays her in a way that makes her come off as crazy. If she had been three- dimensional, it might have worked. Like a lot of his films, Crowe's trying to be Billy Wilder, and he just doesn't have the cynicism. He's too "nice"- which is fine, as when Crowe sticks to his own strengths (SAY ANYTHING & ALMOST FAMOUS), he's one of the best. Chalk this one up as an interesting failure.
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+1
1:27PM on 01/12/2012
It's probably his "worst", but still a great movie (Vanilla Sky is way better than the original by the way, and also one of the best movies ever made, as well as Almost Famous)
It's probably his "worst", but still a great movie (Vanilla Sky is way better than the original by the way, and also one of the best movies ever made, as well as Almost Famous)
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+6
12:55PM on 01/12/2012

not bad

It was an alright movie from what i recall. Though staying in a similar vein i personally liked Garden State more then this one.
It was an alright movie from what i recall. Though staying in a similar vein i personally liked Garden State more then this one.
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12:39PM on 01/12/2012
I thought it was flawed, and it's not a movie I would watch again and again, but when I saw it, I did enjoy it. As a previous poster said, the road trip sequence was the highlight of the film.

Going to have to disagree about Kirsten Dunst, though. It's not that her performance was bad, but I don't like the way her character was written. Too shallow, I found. But that's just me.
I thought it was flawed, and it's not a movie I would watch again and again, but when I saw it, I did enjoy it. As a previous poster said, the road trip sequence was the highlight of the film.

Going to have to disagree about Kirsten Dunst, though. It's not that her performance was bad, but I don't like the way her character was written. Too shallow, I found. But that's just me.
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12:36PM on 01/12/2012
Almost Famous and Vanilla Sky ar by far Cameron Crowe's best work. Jerry Maguire and Say Anything too. Damn he's got some good films under his belt. But Iwas a big fan of Elizabethtown from the moment I saw it in theaters. The road trip sequence at the end is worth the purchase alone.
Almost Famous and Vanilla Sky ar by far Cameron Crowe's best work. Jerry Maguire and Say Anything too. Damn he's got some good films under his belt. But Iwas a big fan of Elizabethtown from the moment I saw it in theaters. The road trip sequence at the end is worth the purchase alone.
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11:58AM on 01/12/2012
Movie sucks, but judging from comments below mine is actually the unpopular opinion
Movie sucks, but judging from comments below mine is actually the unpopular opinion
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+4
10:02AM on 01/12/2012
Haven't seen it, but now I want to check it out.
Haven't seen it, but now I want to check it out.
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8:54AM on 01/12/2012
Elizabethtown is nowhere near Crowe's best (that would be Say Anything), but Elizabethtown is a very good film about the loss of someone, but finding happiness along the way. The characters in this film were true and honest. Especially the two main characters.

I enjoyed it and after reading this article, want to revisit the film again.
Elizabethtown is nowhere near Crowe's best (that would be Say Anything), but Elizabethtown is a very good film about the loss of someone, but finding happiness along the way. The characters in this film were true and honest. Especially the two main characters.

I enjoyed it and after reading this article, want to revisit the film again.
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