Notes for "Elizabethtown II: The Music of Life"
1. Must make the relationship between Drew (Orland Bloom) and Claire (Kirsten Dunst) more believable. Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom), a wunderkind at an athletic shoe company in Portland, who gets fired because his newest design will cost the company close to $1 billion dollars, meets Claire (Kirsten Dunst), the irrepressible flight attendant during his flight to Elizabethtown, Kentucky, for his father's funeral. In the first film, they meet during the flight and she practically forces herself upon him. In most romantic comedies, there is a "meet cute" scene, where the two people meet in an unexpected, funny way. I wasn't able to come up with that, so I had Claire force herself into Drew's life. The only way this would work even remotely would be for Drew to be a mess. Which is why he fails at his job, in his relationship and he has a strained relationship with his dad, which isn't helped by the fact that he died, so he is a mess. This is the only way anyone would be even remotely attracted to someone as annoying as Claire.
In the next film, what will their relationship be? The first film has them getting together (?) and forming a bond. This is why I included a lot of shots of Claire staring at Drew and smiling in a forlorn way. I think it works.
Maybe they should be fighting in the beginning of the film and the film is about their journey back together? Yeah, that could work.
NOTE: Concerned that all of the characters are defined by buzzwords: suicidal, irrepressible, wunderkind. For sequel, should try to establish more layers for all characters. I used to be able to do this. Watch "Almost Famous" and "Jerry Maguire" again for inspiration. Don't know what happened.
The journey back together could be an excuse for another of Claire's crazy maps. (Check into merchandising possibilities!!!!!) In the first film, as Drew prepares to take his father's ashes back to California, Claire gives him a huge, handmade map including instructions about where to stop, for how long, what to eat, what to appreciate. All set to music she (I!) picked. Talk about your control freaks. She made a couple of dozen CDs to accompany the trip. Great excuse for me to include just about every song I have every enjoyed, in my entire life. The loud, constant music also allows me to cover up any obnoxious dialogue that may not be working.
2. Because I have used up all of my favorite songs, there will be fewer to choose from for the sequel, so less music. Which means they will have to talk more. Hmm? Not sure about that.
3. Don't understand why the studio wouldn't let me call the film "Elizabethtown: The Music of Death". Funny reference to the sheer number of songs on the soundtrack. Great excuse to release multiple soundtracks and make a lot of ancillary revenue. Paramount is so gonna love this. There is so much music on the soundtrack that it will be difficult for many people to sit through, but as the filmmaker, I have to go with my vision.
4. Orlando Bloom is a handsome guy, but perhaps I made him too uninteresting. In the sequel, he could go on a journey of extreme sports; hang gliding, zip lining, etc. That would help breathe some life into his character. It would also give them a destination for the road trip.
I had too many shots of Bloom doing crazy things with no dialogue. He stops in the middle of the road, dancing on one leg, pumping his fist in the air, because Claire recommended he do this. I think it works, even though Bloom seems a bit manipulated throughout by Claire and the CDs. It was the absolute right decision to have about twenty minutes of the road trip with no dialogue from Bloom, narrated by Kirsten Dunst. Neither is a great actor, but having Dunst narrate Bloom's journey at least makes it interesting. Right?
I also think it was absolutely the right decision to have the road trip at the end of the film. The slowest part at the end. Brilliant!!!!
In the next film, if they are traveling together, how will I solve this problem?
5. Kirsten Dunst is a good actress, but she may have been a little over the top on the first film. Make sure she plays it down in "II". From the moment she first appears on screen, she seems inquisitive, at times, she seems crazy. She practically forces herself upon Bloom's Drew. Not sure it worked. Also, the entire film is about their relationship, yet the relationship remains tentative at best, until the very end. It was a bit maddening really, but that's what the audience wants right? I'm sure the 18- 34 demographic that the film is made for will appreciate it. It's a bit like the relationship between Rachel and Ross on "Friends". Yay!
6. I really like the scenes of Drew interacting with his extended family in Elizabethtown. This seems to be the section of the film that works the best, is the most genuine. How can I get them back to Elizabethtown in the sequel? Or do the country relatives come out to "California" and see Drew and his family in Portland, Oregon?
The relationship between Drew's cousin Jessie (Paul Schneider), his young son, and his father, Uncle Dale (Loudon Wainright) works really well. We really get a feel for the dynamic of their relationship and how they interact with one another. Paul Deen (from TV's Food Network) appears as Aunt Dora and she does a good job. She is a bit more precocious, but not in an obnoxious way. The southern relatives are, overall, very level and no imbued with the typical stereotypes you would expect. Except for the whole "California" thing. Groan. What was I thinking.
7. Unfortunately, these are counteracted by the scenes involving Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer as Drew's mom and sister. I guess I went too over the top with these. I thought it would be funny to have Hollie (Sarandon) try to learn how to repair cars, tap dance, etc., as her method of dealing with the grief of losing her husband. I thought she could pull it off. Normally, she is such a great actress. I don't know what happened. But it is definitely all her fault.
The scene where Hollie does a little tap dance tribute to her husband? Brilliant!!!
8. Thankfully, the film will make money. Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst are like honey to a bee. Bee = 18 - 34 demographic that will flock to the theaters. Sequel will be justified and I can make the film better, correcting all of the problems in the first film.