Elizabethtown Studio: Paramount Home Video Year: 2006 (2005 Release) Rated: PG-13 Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays Audio: English DD 5.1; English DD 2.0 surround; French 5.1 surround Subtitles: English; Spanish Time: 123 minutes Disc Format: DVD-9 Case Style: Keep case When I got done watching Cameron Crowe’s “Elizabethtown”, I found myself sitting there scratching my head. Having spent 123 minutes with Drew (Orlando Bloom), Claire (Kirsten Dunst) and the rest of the players, I thought I might have missed something. The picture seems to carry a heavy weight: Drew works for a Nike-like shoe company and, because of a problem with a shoe he designed, the company is going to lose almost a billion dollars. Due to this failure, Drew decides to kill himself by retrofitting his stationary bike with a large knife. Just as he’s about to hit the start button, his cell rings and he reluctantly picks it up. On the other end is Drew’s sister who tells him their father has just died and he needs to go to Elizabethtown, Kentucky to finalize the funeral arrangements. On the empty flight back to Elizabethtown, Drew meets Claire: a bored and bouncy flight attendant who engages him in conversation. Claire is what could be referred to as the stereotypical movie female arch-type for the new millennium: a young, cute girl whose life is a mess, but she has the innate ability to look into the souls of the troubled male and see who they really are even if they don’t. They also speak in non-sequiter laden dialogues that wrap up theology, politics, love and entertainment into a nice, neat, message heavy box. I almost blame Crowe for fueling this type, since Kate Hudson’s Penny Lane was one of the founding mothers of this kind of character (see also Natalie Portman in “Garden State”). When Drew gets to Elizabethtown, he learns how loved his father was in the town, so much so the townsfolk have reserved a burial plot for him. Drew is overwhelmed by the numerous twists has life has taken, so he winds up calling Claire for solace. They proceed to have an overnight cell phone conversation about anything and everything. Once they meet face to face, Claire decides they may just be better as friends. We, being savvy viewers, know this won’t be the case, so it now simply becomes and exercise in watching to see how we get there. As Drew’s father’s memorial banquet and funeral arrive, Drew and Claire realize their roles in each other’s lives. Claire, upholding her psy-chik type, sends Drew on a road trip of self-discovery (musical soundtrack and oh-so-cute road maps included) as a way of clearing the road to what will probably be a tremendous love affair. Throw in a sub-plot about how Drew’s mom is dealing with the death, and you have “Elizabethtown”. Now that you have a sense of the story, you may see why I was scratching my head. Crowe is a storyteller of similar relationship type pictures that arguably peaked with “Jerry Maguire”. He expanded several of those themes into the group setting in the semi-autobiographical “Almost Famous”, and then he took a left turn with the trippy “Vanilla Sky”. “Elizabethtown” takes some of the best elements of all of those previous pictures (the love affair of “Jerry Maguire”, Penny Lane, and the abstractness of “Vanilla Sky”), mixes them together and spits out a watered down version of those three pictures. While I found myself liking the story and characters on the surface, I kept thinking I was missing something in their deep dialogues or in the music video-like montages. I also thought there may be a payoff to all of this at the end of the picture, but there wasn’t. Instead, I am left with a re-used story that was odd for its own sake and it provided me with nothing more to think about after it was over except who was cuter, Orlando or Kirsten. Video The film is presented in a 1.85:1, and it is anamorphic. It is a very sharp image that shows a lot of detail in both the foreground and background. I noticed no edge enhancement during the feature and it was free of any compression artifacts or video noise. Blacks are suitably dark and show good detail. Color fidelity is well balanced and rich providing us with a very warm image that welcomes us into the story. Flesh tones were accurate and showed subtle differences between each of the actors. Audio I watched the feature with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track engaged. The soundtrack utilized the fronts for the most part with the surrounds perking up for atmospheric effects. Voices are firmly planted in the center channel and I thought it was mono at times. LFE effects come out during the musical montages, but otherwise remain subdued. Crowe is well known for adding in music to enhance the story or make a point, and this picture is no different. I tried to imagine the picture without the music and I found it would have been a pretty minimal listening experience. Crowe is a decent enough storyteller that he needs to rely less on music to convey the emotion and allow his story and actors to do so. Regardless, the music is accurately presented in stereo without utilizing the surrounds thus maintaining the intent of the original artist. Bonus material The extras are minimal on this release. I would liked to have had a director’s commentary from Crowe to shed some light on what he was thinking on certain plot points. Since there are so few extras, I’m wondering if there will be a secondary release in the future. Training Wheels (2:18):Behind the scenes video of the shoot with music background. Meet the Crew (2:36): Video of the crewmembers, identifying them and their jobs. Again, it has a music background. Extended Scenes: Two extended scenes: Rusty’s Learning to Listen Part 8 (a borderline creepy version of another oddity of the main feature) and Hanging with Russell in Memphis (bonus video footage with more and expanded stories from Russell) Photo Gallery by Neal Preston: numerous photos listed as: Behind the Scenes; Mercury; Drew Baylor; Mitch, Hollie, Drew, and Heather: The Baylors; Claire Colburn; Drew & Claire; Kentucky; The Memorial; The Funeral; The Road Trip. 2 Theatrical Trailers of “Elizabethtown”, labeled “Bad Day” and “Drew”, that emphasizes the various plots of the picture. Conclusions While “Elizabethtown” is not a bad picture, it does leave you wanting a bit more, at least creatively. Crowe continues his string of music-dominated pictures providing us with a “seen that already” feeling coupled with a mild case of confusion at the end. The DVD, however, gives us a beautiful transfer with great detail even if the extras are lacking. And for the record, I find Kirsten to be cuter.