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Elizabethtown sparks intellect, not romance

As Drew Baylor stares into the casket at his father, the man?s mouth seems to curl up in a smile. Anyone who has ever been to an open casket funeral can attest to the feeling that the person in the coffin will wake up any minute and have a good laugh at the joke.

For a story that revolves around death, Cameron Crowe?s Elizabethtown is quite comical. It tells a story of an underdog?s rise to greatness, then fall to underdog status once again.

Can he accept being an underdog once he enjoyed the lucrative benefits of success? Or will he accept his failures and persevere.

Orlando Bloom plays Drew as he journeys through the debate of death: learning how to grieve and to discover a new life in the southern Kentucky territory.

Upon being fired after a backfired attempt to create a new shoe line, Drew narrates his march toward suicide intermittently saying, ?I?m fine,? trying to convince himself and his co-workers that he is unfazed by his situation. As a ?connoisseur of last looks,? Drew savors each last moment of life leading up to his career ?death.?

Drew?s hope in the world is shattered by the realization that ?success, not greatness, is the only god the entire world served.? He comes to the conclusions that ?a failure is the non-presence of success? and ?a fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions,? and he created a fiasco that dooms him to failure.

Temporarily postponing his suicide attempt, Drew proceeds to the foreign Elizabethtown to attend his late father?s funeral. During his flight, Claire Colburn [Kirsten Dunst], a perky and ceaselessly optimistic flight attendant seems content to drag the gloomy Drew out of his depression.

Though Elizabethtown does contains some darker elements, the movie?s majority is evened out by a satiric comedy that ridicules the misery that Drew must experience to accept his less stately future.

One of the film?s funniest moments occurs in the funeral home when Drew goes to view his father?s embalmed body. He enters by giving his condolences to the other family members revealing his incapability of comprehending his grief.

As he stares into his father?s cold face, Drew concludes the best description of the corpse is ?whimsical.?

Ironically Drew takes up residence on the same hotel floor reserved for a wedding party. ?Lovin? Life? is Chuck and Cindy?s sappy and party inspired weeklong theme. Death and life become neighbors and Drew misery sets in with added loneliness.

In an attempt to rid him of any further depression, Drew dials the cell phone number Claire slipped to him during his flight.

Both characters are worn out by being the ?substitute people,? as Claire calls it, constantly saving others by stepping in when needed. ?I?ve been asleep most of my life,? Claire said to Drew over their phone conversation lasting till morning.

Drew and Claire come to realize that their substitute weaknesses have diminished their individuality. ?Do you ever think I?m just fooling everybody?? Claire asks Drew. Both characters are drawn together by their common feelings of inferiority and insignificance.

?I expected a romantic comedy, but was pleasantly surprised with its serious undertones,? Brianne Raymer, ?06, said. ?The relationship between Claire Colburn and Drew Baylor was inspiring as they helped each other discover their individual lives.?

Elizabethtown is neither a failure nor fiasco, but a poignant story of new life found in death. The two characters realize how life is best spent in the relationships formed through happenstance and family ties.

?Have the courage to fail big and stick around,? Claire said. ?Have them wonder why you?re still smiling.? Whether you like this movie or not, I doubt Crowe would care. The idea of the movie is to overcome adversity with optimism.

For more information on Elizabethtown and it?s content go online at www.christianitytoday.com/movies. See the movie at Edwards 21 Cinema in the Riverpark Shopping Center.

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    Kyser AndersonAug 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    You better watch out because I am vaulting now 🙂

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