Trust the Gene Genie

Friday, February 17, 2006

Why, Cameron Crowe? Why?

So, Becky and I finally got around to watching "Elizabethtown." You must understand, I'm one of those types who believe Cameron Crowe can do no wrong. Mostly. And maybe for that reason "Elizabethtown" was nearly impossible to watch. It's a great story, with classic Crowe situations, quandaries, dilemmas and dialogue. But I can't think of another movie I've seen in recent history that has been this horribly miscast. I mean horrifically miscast.

Let me explain. I love "Lord of the Rings." I own all three special extended edition DVDs. I think Legolas is great. But Orlando Bloom cannot act. I stand here and now and proclaim to the world that Orlando Bloom cannot act. And if there's one thing a Cameron Crowe movie needs in order to survive and even thrive is a really good character actor -- a la John Cusack and Jason Lee and Campbell Scott, etc. (Yes, Tom Cruise is the obvious exception.) In "Elizabethtown" Bloom tripped over lines, bumbled into his costars, and showed no emotive expression for two hours. That's kind of a feat in and of itself. Crowe's films are so completely character-driven that they're only as successful as the films' actors are believable. And Orlando Bloom is anything but believable. A quick example? The scene where he shows his frustration at missing Exit 60B. I had to turn my head in embarrassment.

Kirsten Dunst. Now, don't get me wrong. Within her world I think she's a pretty good actress. So I don't know if its Crowe's fault or hers, but she was also terrible in the movie. Or maybe she acted her part too well. Maybe the problem was she tried to play the quirky, crazy girl you see in every single romantic comedy that's ever come out since the dawn of time. And that's a problem because Cameron Crowe films aren't romantic comedies. They're more like romantic dramadies. Anyway, with Kirsten's performance I sat through most of the movie waiting for the big reveal that Kirsten's character was actually bipolar or psychologically disturbed and that Bloom to show that he truly loved her would help her through her dementia and get her the help she needed and stick with her through think and thin -- a la "Benny and Joon." She of course is sane. At least, according to the script. Her behavior throughout the film just stuck out like a glaring typo because the rest of the movie, believe it or not, was grounded in a something resembling realism.

So there it is. I had to get it off my chest. The rest of the cast was pretty much pitch perfect. Alec Baldwin's two minutes were wonderful. The movie is almost worth seeing for the Drew's dad memorial/"Free Bird" scene. That was pretty classic. But overall, the film just falls apart on the shoulders of Bloom and Dunst. It plays like a case study in poor casting. It was surprisingly bad.

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