Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Welcome to 'Elizabethtown'; Classic Cameron Crowe-Directed 'Moments' Rescue Fragmented Tale

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Welcome to 'Elizabethtown'; Classic Cameron Crowe-Directed 'Moments' Rescue Fragmented Tale

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT SOERGEL

Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown is a real mess, as if the storyteller got started telling one yarn, then got sidetracked to another, got bored with that, then moved on to fragments of a few more before kind-of/sort-of getting somewhere in the vicinity of his original destination.

I liked it.

I was hoping to love it, as I did Crowe's Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous (we'll leave his Vanilla Sky in obscurity, where it belongs). But I'll settle for like.

Because, as flawed as it is, the good-natured Elizabethtown has dozens of satisfying moments stuffed into it -- they don't add up to a satisfying whole, but the parts that go into it aren't bad at all.

Plus there's Kirsten Dunst in it, playing the latest of Crowe's angels, those nurturing, mysterious, powerful women. She is funny and adorable and fully alive, jumping off the screen and overpowering Orlando Bloom, the likable but wan leading man.

"Just tell me you love me and get it over with," she says at one point. Done.

Elizabethtown is all over the place, with themes about recovering from failure, opening up to love, bonding with family, reconciling with the past and discovering the great majesty of the U.S.A.

But it's as much about the importance of a really good mix tape as it is about anything else.

Elizabethtown functions as music nut Crowe's mix tape, with carefully chosen gems playing (sometimes a bit too emphatically) during every key moment. And in the last section of this oddly structured film, Bloom drives across the country to a collection of mix tapes provided by Dunst -- blues, country, pop, strummy acoustic guitars.

As far back as Say Anything, music has driven Crowe's films. Remember John Cusack with the boom box playing In Your Eyes? Of course you do.

Ryan Adams' great, great Come Pick Me Up does indeed pick up the movie, playing during the scene where Elizabethtown finally stirs out of its torpor after a long, long intro that should have all been a one-minute prologue. …

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