Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.
USA, 2005. Paramount Pictures, Cruise/Wagner Productions, Vinyl Films, KMP Film Invest. Screenplay by Cameron Crowe. Cinematography by John Toll. Produced by Cameron Crowe, Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner. Music by Nancy Wilson. Production Design by Clay A. Griffith. Costume Design by Nancy Steiner. Film Editing by David Moritz.
Cameron Crowe’s successor to the wonderful films Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous is this unmitigated mess that tries to capture the best of both films (basically the quirky romance and kickass soundtrack). Orlando Bloom plays a designer for a sportswear corporation who loses his company a billion dollars when his innovative design for a new running shoe fails catastrophically on the market. Just as he’s deciding to end his life because of his serious depression, he gets a phone call from home that informs him that his father has died. Returning to Oregon to be with his sister (Judy Greer) and mother (Susan Sarandon), he is told that he must go on ahead to Kentucky, where his father is from, and prepare the burial arrangements with a side of the family that he’s never met. Upon arrival there he uncovers an entire clan of loopy individuals who give him a new sense of place in the world, a perspective that is rounded out by his meeting a chirpy flight attendant (Kirsten Dunst) who never leaves him alone. Bloom is awful, fleshing out the weaknesses in Crowe’s script with his morse-code-telegraphed emotions and awkward American accent that is never believable. Dunst is more appealing, but Crowe’s ridiculous screenplay suggests that she never has anything better to do with her time than obsess over this young man with whom she is only casually acquainted. Sarandon has the film’s best moments, but her role is far too inconsequential to save it, while Paul Schneider (the superb actor from David Gordon Green’s All The Real Girls) has a delightful supporting turn as Bloom’s disappointed-in-life but optimistic cousin. Crowe seems to think that starting another golden oldie track every three minutes inspires the audience’s emotional involvement, but even this is a letdown; after a while it starts to feel that the overlong film is just an excuse to play his favourite songs.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2005