Elizabethtown (film)

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Elizabethtown poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Cameron Crowe
Produced by Cameron Crowe
Tom Cruise
Paula Wagner
Written by Cameron Crowe
Starring Orlando Bloom
Kirsten Dunst
Susan Sarandon
Alec Baldwin
Music by Nancy Wilson
Edited by David Moritz
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • September 4, 2005 (2005-09-04) (VIFF)
  • October 14, 2005 (2005-10-14)
Running time 123 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $45 million
Box office $52,034,889[1]

Elizabethtown is a 2005 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Cameron Crowe starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. Alec Baldwin has a small role as a CEO of an athletic shoe company and Susan Sarandon appears as a grieving widow.


Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) is the designer of the Späsmotica shoe, a world-famously hyped but flawed new product that his boss (Alec Baldwin) informs him will lose $972 million and is "a disaster of mythic proportions, [...] a folktale told to others that makes other people feel more alive because it didn't happen to them."

Drew is fired for the mistake, and subsequently his girlfriend breaks up with him. He plans an elaborate suicide via a butcher knife tied to an exercise bike but he is called at the last minute by his sister Heather and mother Hollie who tell him that their father had died and ask him to travel to Elizabethtown, Kentucky, with his father's favorite blue suit to retrieve his body for cremation. During his flight on a nearly empty plane, Drew is approached by Claire (Kirsten Dunst), a cheerful and enthusiastic flight attendant who offers Drew a seat in First Class so she wouldn't have to go back to Coach just for him. Her outgoing personality comes out as she tries to get to know Drew and she provides him a map of Elizabethtown due to its confusing routes and road structures, and also gives him her phone number.

Once in Elizabethtown, Drew meets with his estranged family, aunts, uncles, and cousins who tease him for being a "California Boy" even though his family had only moved there for eighteen months. As he makes arrangements for his father, he stays at a hotel which is hosting a large wedding reception and even sparks friendships with the hosts Chuck and Cindy. He calls Claire for a late night talk, switching between her and his sister and mother when they call. Claire impulsively drives out to meet with Drew, the two sparking a close friendship and mutual attraction. Back with his family, Drew visits the plot they want his father to be buried in, but insists on going ahead with his mother's wish for cremation, much to the family's chagrin. But one night, as Drew is visiting his Aunt Dora, Bill Banyon remarks how he can still picture Mitch in his favorite blue suit and Drew realizes he has forgotten to give the suit to the mortuary and rushes out; however he makes it to the mortuary too late and is given his father's ashen remains. After sleeping with Claire, Drew confesses to her about his failures and that he does not belong in the world anymore, but she belittles the failures, claiming they are only based on money and not his life. She says she will try to be at his father's memorial service with a gift for him.

Hollie and Heather arrive for the service, which is well received by everyone. Hollie delivers a eulogy in the form of a tap dance and comedy routine which causes laughter and tears. Claire arrives to Drew's pleasure and she hands him a box. Things nearly turn disastrous when, during his cousin's band's rendition of the song "Free Bird", the giant bird catches on fire and causes chaos in the hall. Drew and Claire kiss and Claire leaves during the evacuation; Drew suspects he'll never see her again. However, by following a series of instructions provided by Claire to guide Drew "home" (maps marked with places of interest), Drew begins to come to realize his own mistakes. After scattering his father's ashes at various locations, he is given a choice: to continue following the route and return to his home, or to follow further instructions. He chooses the latter and drives to the world's second largest farmer's market; there, he discovers Claire waiting for him. Drew finally realizes what Claire has been telling him all along, it doesn't matter if you fail, or if you die, something always comes out of it: Life.



Jane Fonda was cast in Susan Sarandon's role, but had to bow out. Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, Colin Hanks, Chris Evans, and James Franco all auditioned for Orlando Bloom's part. Kutcher was actually hired to play Drew, but director Cameron Crowe decided during filming that the chemistry between him and Dunst wasn't right and Kutcher left the project. Jessica Biel auditioned for the female lead, but was given a smaller role as Drew's girlfriend.

There is a character named Ben who is mentioned as a love interest of Claire. In the original cut of the film, Ben is revealed to be Claire's brother.

Recognizable settings for scenes shot in Louisville, Kentucky include the Brown Hotel and Cave Hill Cemetery. Although the exterior, lobby, and corridors of the Brown Hotel are seen, a passable replica of the Brown Hotel's Crystal Ball Room was re-created on a soundstage. While Orlando Bloom is supposedly traveling to "Elizabethtown" by car, he is going the incorrect direction on the road. He is also pictured going through the Cherokee Park tunnel, which happens to be on I-64. Elizabethtown is on I-65, about 60 miles in the other direction.

Although the title of the movie is Elizabethtown, most of the small town scenes were actually filmed in Versailles, Kentucky. Only two scenes portraying distinctive landmarks were filmed in Elizabethtown itself because many of Elizabethtown's historic buildings have been replaced by chain stores and sprawl. A few scenes were filmed in LaGrange, Kentucky. Other local scenes were filmed in Otter Creek Park in Meade County, near Brandenburg. Filming also took place in Scottsbluff, Nebraska;[3] Eureka Springs, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Oklahoma City.[4]

In the original cut of the film shown at the Toronto Film Festival, an epilogue reveals that the shoe designed by Drew turns out to be a hit, as it whistles with every step. This was cut from the release version of the film to prevent the ending seeming overly-drawn out.[5]

Joni Mitchell's painting Hyde Park appears in this film. Previously, one of her paintings had appeared in Crowe's Vanilla Sky.


Critical reception [edit]

The film received mostly negative reviews by critics, citing mostly Kirsten Dunst's performance and lack of originality. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 28% "Rotten" rating based on 166 reviews.[6] It holds a Metacritic score of 45 out of 100.[7]

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review, with three stars out of four. He describes the story as the most unrelenting "Meet Cute" in movie history. He goes on to say that although the film is nowhere near one of Crowe's great films like Almost Famous, it is sweet and good-hearted and has some real laughs.[5] Ebert would later reprint on his site an analysis of the film pointing out various plot elements supporting the idea of Claire being an angel.[8]

Manic Pixie Dream Girl[edit]

In his review, Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club created the term "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" to describe the "bubbly, shallow cinematic creature" stock character type that Dunst plays in the film.[9][10][11]

Box office[edit]

Elizabethtown was commercially released on October 14, 2005 in the United States. It was distributed to 2,517 theaters, and grossed $4,050,915 on its opening day. At the end of its opening weekend, the film had grossed $10,618,711, making it the third biggest opening for that weekend. Overall, the film grossed $52,034,889 worldwide within its release of 68 days.[1]


The film features dozens of contemporary rock songs, and Kentucky natives My Morning Jacket portray a fictional rock group named Ruckus who reunite during the film.


External links[edit]