Elizabethtown (2005)

(TubiTV streaming, April 2017) In talking about Elizabethtown, it’s almost essential to talk about aliens and angels. Aliens, because the leading theory to explain what happened to writer/director Cameron Crowe between Jerry Maguire/Almost Famous and Elizabethtown/Aloha is that he has been replaced by an alien with imperfect understanding of human behavior. Elizabethtown professes to be about life, love, laughs and other wholesome sentiments, but even from its first five minutes, it seemingly takes place in a reality with limited similarities to our own. Reading the late and lamented Roger Ebert bring in angels to explain the behavior of the female lead character is a testimony to how far we have to go in order to even make sense of the film. I’m usually good to mention one or two particularly dumb moments in my capsule reviews, but Elizabethtown has so many nonsensical bits that it would take too long to do them justice. Orlando Bloom is sort of bland but still effective as the grieving suicidal lead, while Kirsten Dunst is bubbly as the entirely improbable love interest. “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” was invented to discuss Elizabethtown as one of the few rational responses to such a character. I could go on and on about how the film may be a fever dream or a fantasy written by aliens whose only exposure to humanity has been through romantic comedies, but Elizabethtown is frankly just that weird. It even becomes oddly endearing after a while, once it’s clear than anything goes here. The Free Bird/Firebird sequence is amusing (if, again, directed so poorly as to be ludicrous), there are a few laughs here and there and odd resonant piece of dialogues. Alec Baldwin shows up too briefly as a Big Boss, while I always enjoy seeing Judy Greer and Jessica Alba even in minor roles. Still, Elizabethtown seems to belong in a category of its own, a blend of outsider and performance art, perhaps. In that light, I’d be doing a disservice to tell you not to see it.

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