Monday, July 4, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday – A Whimsical Edition

Happy Independence Day! I hope your celebration of freedom goes well!

I’ve decided that July will be the month of highlighting ‘whimsical’ movies – just fun stories that may seem to some to be kinda ridiculous. But you know, summer has finally arrived in my Big Sky state (and when I say finally… you have no idea!). Summer makes me think of vacation and swimming pools and BBQ picnics and kite flying and putt-putt and family gatherings and plain old fun. The time of year to be whimsical!

So today, first up, is a movie from which I get that wonderful word, whimsical, and one that shows a slice of good old fashion Americana alive and well in this cynical modern world. On a day we’re to remember and cherish our freedoms, families, friends and faith, I don’t think Elizabethtown is too far off the mark… in a back door kind of way.

I say back door because its theme seems kind of… well, depressing.

A successful twenty-something, Drew, (Orlando Bloom), gets the news that his creation, a state-of-the-art running shoe, is being recalled. We never find out what the defect is, but it is enough to cause his company considerable loss and it costs him his job. He’s devastated under the scathing label of failure. So, he goes back to his swanky apartment intent on committing suicide. (stick with me folks – back door, remember?) Right before he acts, he gets a phone call from his sister. Their father, who had gone back to visit his family in Elizabethtown, KY, had suddenly died. (wait… hold on… I’m not pulling your leg…) Drew’s given the responsibility of going to Kentucky to retrieve his father’s body and bring him home. Thing is, he’s never met the KY relatives before. And he’s got no idea what he’s in for.

In addition, his flight to KY is stewarded by perky, annoying but endearing Claire (Kirsten Dunst), and her quirky outlook on life ends up being a key factor in his dealing with both utter occupational defeat as well as the sudden loss of the father he didn’t know as well as he thought.

Elizabethtown is one of my favorite movies because it unveils a slice of the Heartland while pointing to the foundational and essential importance of family, no matter who they are or where they come from. I love it because much of the chaotic family scenes remind me of my family gatherings. I love it because I know people just like those lovable KY folks (in fact, they are KY folks!). I love it because it cleverly turns tragedy into triumph, all based on choice, perspective, and forgiveness. I love it because it shows people how they are really – with all their faults and idiosyncrasies – coming together for the sake of family. And I love the legacy this father ends up leaving behind, a beautiful example.

Don’t worry – Elizabethtown is surprisingly hilarious (as well as whimsical) despite its central theme – lots of comedic relief, which I believe is a tool in and of itself to reveal the point of the whole movie – Life. Also, depending on your tastes, the soundtrack is killer.

I hope you give Elizabethtown a chance. Sometimes the best treats are found when you go through the back door!

Happy Movie Watching and Happy Independence Day!

(photos by