Just Plain Folks
Release Date: October 14, 2005
Starring: Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst,
Susan Sarandon, Bruce McGill,
Loudon Wainwright III as
Loudon Wainwright, Judy Greer,
Jessica Biel, and Alec Baldwin
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 123 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Cameron Crowe
Executive Producer: Donald J. Lee, Jr.
Producer: Cameron Crowe, Tom Cruise and
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Address Comments To:Brad Grey, Chairman/CEO
Gail Berman, President
Motion Picture Group
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197
Phone: (323) 956-5000
Orlando Bloom stars as Drew Baylor, a product designer who has just lost nearly $1 billion for the popular shoe company for which he works. Drew goes home to kill himself, but just before he commits this heinous act, he gets the call about his dad. His mom, Hollie, doesn’t want to go to handle her husband’s cremation, because she has never felt comfortable with the folksy Kentucky relatives. So, she sends Drew in her stead.
On the flight to Kentucky, the perky, pretty blonde stewardess, Claire Colburn, played by Kirsten Dunst, befriends Drew. She senses something is wrong because of Drew’s sad countenance, so she makes an extra effort to cheer him up with her own quirky manner. At first irritated, Drew eventually is bemused and attracted.
Drew and his father had grown apart because of Drew’s commitment to his job in Los Angeles. In Kentucky, however, he learns of the whole town’s devotion to his loving father, not just his relatives. Later, he even learns about the depth of his mother’s love for her husband. A night long phone conversation with Claire brings the two of them together during Drew’s visit to Elizabethtown. As Drew comes to know all of these people, especially Claire, he begins to move from death to life.
The dramatic and often comical personal journey that Drew takes in this movie is both funny and poignant. The movie goes on a bit too long, however – more than two hours. Also, writer and director Cameron Crowe (ALMOST FAMOUS and JERRY MAGUIRE) throws in one too many cutesy affectations in his story and characters. This may dilute the movie’s emotional power for most viewers.
There are some mixed elements in this movie. For example, there is no sense of the sinfulness of man. Everyone is usually very nice to one another; the ones who have problems are just a little mixed up, Crowe and his actors seem to be saying. Also, the movie implies that Drew and Claire eventually sleep together, though there are no scenes of lovemaking in Drew’s hotel room. Finally, at the hotel, a young bride and groom have arranged several wild days of hedonistic partying for their wedding party. In one scene, Drew steals some beer from the party and has a comical interaction with the groom, who’s drunk.
Ultimately, however, ELIZABETHTOWN has a light Christian worldview. Drew’s journey is not only about moving from failure and death to happiness and life. It is also about gaining insight into different varieties of fulfilling love, including marital love, romantic love and love of others. This Christian worldview is also indicated by a closing positive reference to Jesus Christ in a prayer as Drew’s family back in Oregon sits down to a meal. There is also a reference to Jesus during the Kentucky funeral service for Drew’s father.
If ELIZABETHTOWN had included more such references, eliminated its two “f” words and deleted the implied night of fornication between Drew and Claire, its Christian worldview would, of course, have been much stronger.
It should be noted, however, that Drew honors his father in a sequence where he also honors the kind of out-of-the-way and historical places in America that both his father and Claire apparently love. This and other elements in ELIZABETHTOWN give the movie a gentle, pro-American touch that celebrates Americana. It was also nice to see at least one major Hollywood movie where folksy people with Southern accents were treated decently, without them having to be liberals or political activists.
The dramatic and often comical personal journey that Drew takes in ELIZABETHTOWN is both funny and poignant. The story goes on a bit too long, however (over two hours), and its cutesy qualities overstay their welcome. Despite some mixed elements, ELIZABETHTOWN has a light Christian worldview. There are a couple positive references to Jesus and Drew’s journey is ultimately about gaining insight into different varieties of fulfilling love, including marital love, romantic love and love of others.