Dunst and Bloom get cozy

Lauren Flaum

After watching previews for Cameron Crowe’s latest film “Elizabethtown,” one can not help but feel they have seen this same thing before in “Garden State.” However, in viewing the actual film, the comparisons end with the incredibly similar plot lines.

“Elizabethtown” tells the story of Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom), a sneaker designer from Oregon who gets a taste of failure in the opening scenes of the film, and is fired for his billion dollar mistake. On the verge of suicide, he receives a phone call from his sister telling him his father has died.

Sent to his father’s hometown in Kentucky, Drew meets bubbly flight attendant Claire (Kirsten Dunst)

Haven’t we seen this before: an unsuccessful guy who has not seen his family in years travels across the country to attend the funeral of a parent and falls in love with a beautiful townie along the way. Change the location and the hair color of the female lead and you’ve got 2004’s “Garden State.”

Where “Garden State” evokes real emotions and portrays characters coming to grips with life and death in realistic ways is where Crowe’s “Elizabethtown” ceases to measure up.

The movie is not fantasy or sci-fi, but realism. Therefore things should make sense, and add up. No such luck. There are so many holes in the movie, and points where you want to shout, “That would never happen” that it detracts from the film, and the acting makes it easy to focus on what is not quite right.

For instance, the characters speak and behave in ways that people in real life do not. Instead of grieving, the deceased father’s family is all smiles and good times. Celebrating the life of a loved one with no tears and live music is a nice way to deal with their death, but how often does this actually occur?

There is also the problem of the accents. British-born Bloom is playing his first role as an American and clearly needed more work with his vocal coach. Dunst’s Southern drawl would sometimes completely disappear. However, the two are so cute together that it is easy to forgive them.

To be fair, not every aspect of the film is far-fetched and contrived. The relationship between Drew and Claire provides some sincere and heartfelt moments. Bloom and Dunst have great on-screen chemistry that carries the film along, at least in the parts where they are together.

Our rating: Two stars (out of five.)