A Love Letter To Kentucky: Elizabethtown

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Elizabethtown (2005 PG-13) somehow got on my Netflix list.  The blurb kept me from wanting to watch it (“Fired from his job as a shoe designer, Drew tries to kill himself. But he gets a new lease on life when he returns to his hometown for a funeral.”)  I finally did, and found some good in it.

Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous) directs Orlando Bloom (Drew) as the young man who goes to small town Kentucky after his father’s unexpected death, and Kirsten Dunst (Claire) as the flight attendant who passes on her phone number.

If you’ve ever been to a family reunion or holiday get-together, you would recognize the scenes at his uncle’s house.  Lots of food, lots of relatives you’re not sure you remember, lots of kids running around.  Yes, that is Paula Deen as Aunt Dora.

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And you may have experienced a phone conversation in which neither of you wants to hang up, so you simply continue rambling as you wander about your house.  Drew calls Claire because he is lonely and out of his element, and the long scene on the phone is fun to watch.

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When Drew’s mother (Susan Sarandon) and sister (Judy Greer) arrive for the services, we get a taste of the way some families are resentful when one member moves away.

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My favorite part is when Drew takes a road trip with his father’s ashes, using directions Claire gives to him.  She guides him to out of the ordinary sites, the kind you find off the beaten track in every state.  The Round Barn.  The World’s Second Largest Farmer’s Market.  Small towns and family farms, brick buildings and dusty diners.  It is on the road that Drew makes peace with his father, and with his failure at work.  Fun!

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But on the whole, I couldn’t enjoy the movie.  Claire is just too cute, too perfect, too prepared to say the right thing, to give the right gift.  Susan Sarandon, as the outsider, enjoys her manic-style mourning a bit too much.  The misunderstood cousin, the endless bachelor party, is too extreme.

I like the trailer more than the movie.  What do you think?

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