“There’s a difference between a failure and a fiasco,” shoe designer Drew (Orlando Bloom) says in Elizabethtown—a difference quantified by the 12 minutes Cameron Crowe trimmed from the widely dismissed “unfinished” version unveiled at Venice and Toronto. A little spit shine has transformed an unshapely, undisciplined movie—inspired by Crowe’s experiences after his father’s death—into something professional, if still irritatingly self-involved. Copious dead time has been shaved off. Drew expounds more succinctly on “last looks” and has fewer run-ins with kooky newlyweds-to-be Chuck and Cindy. Crowe has removed at least one scene of funeral planning and tightened the meandering road trip that concludes the film, which quasi-girlfriend Kirsten Dunst has timed (by landmark!) to her favorite songs. Despite criticism, Drew’s mother’s eulogy-cum-breakdown remains largely intact, with Susan Sarandon still musing about a neighbor’s erection and tap dancing to “Moon River.” But the single most fatuous footnote has been excised: In the original ending, not only does Drew get the girl, see the nation, and learn the true meaning of family, but the winged “Spasmotica” shoe that gets him fired at the outset turns out to be bigger than the Pump circa 1992—some kid discovers the sneaker’s wind-chime-like aural properties. For once, it seems, Crowe realized his movie already had enough music.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 4, 2005