Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

July 9, 2006

“Elizabethtown” won’t make you gay

Filed under: movies — secretmojo @ 11:53 am

Elizabethtown is what I call a Chick Flick with a Dick. It’s treacle enough in parts to make you grow a vagina, but smart and cool enough to keep your dick in reserve. If need be.

Cameron Crowe wrote it (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire), so I obviously wasn’t taking any risks watching the movie. Besides, Kirsten Dunst is in it, and frankly I would watch her scoop gunk out of her ear for two hours just to see her move.

The story is your pretty typical romantic fare: smart, rich, but schleppy guy (Orlando Bloom) hates himself, hates the world. Committed a billion-dollar failure at his ultra-white job. Has a suddenly dead dad, and so forth; life sucks for him from uniquely crappy angles. If only some humble stewardess chick with a fix-him fetish (Kirsten Dunst) would invasively intervene in his life, he wouldn’t kill himself with a knife attached to an exercise bike because of a goofy-looking shoe he designed.

Okay, that’s why this movie passes. There are so many clever tricks, reversals, and details stuck in whilst obeying a hackneyed structure that I don’t mind at all. Alec Baldwin performs a short scene beautifully in the beginning, riding the good guy/bad guy razor’s edge, and sets the quirky humorous tone for the rest of the movie. And Susan Sarandon plays Orlando’s flaked-out mom who acquires acute hyperactivity after her husband’s death (yes, she’s pretty funny). The dialogue was snappy but not contrived, and Elizabethtown is full of more interesting and funny characters than 10 of Tom Cruise’s movies. So I don’t mind the ambling, idealistic romance (Will she love him? Will he love her? But she can’t, because she’s not sure of herself… blah blah) one bit.

Except all that stupid crap on the phone. It was done well, of course. And Dunst cranks up the “innocently comfy” bit to about eleven and damn, that’s sexy. But Christ, I see enough people yakking on the phone all day. I was waiting for Bloom to accidentally call Dunst “Scully.” To watch a (long) telephone conversation made the characters feel sort of—pathetic. But maybe chicks get a charge talking on the phone, and can understand the deep “psychological sex” of an all-night phone chat better than I.

Anyway, despite my copious laughter and my furious effort to resist an ambushing tear-jerk moment, this movie does get long at the end, because just after all the questions of the story are pretty much decided, Orlando Bloom spends a good chunk of movie time driving a car alone. Again, this seems pathetic to me. Perhaps because a car is too common. But I’ll respect Crowe if he was trying to say something here, presumably about Americana (which didn’t seem to show up too forcefully earlier in the film); I might just be too dumb to get it.

I’d give it about 6.5–7 stars on IMDB. Above average, and certainly worth risking the vagina for. Beats out most romantic comedies in wit and intelligence alone. Not one actor sucked; even the small supporting rolls are handled ingeniously. Many scenes are simply masterful strokes of humanness, but there may not be enough of them to stop me from thinking how lame that phone vignette was.

God, that phone scene was buttmunch.


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