I found that this movie had a lot of charming quirks and was set to a great sound track but failed to resonate with me on a deeper level. I think that this film pulled out all the stops in trying to pluck at my heart strings but I was left emotionally unaffected.
On a positive note some of the dialogue is really intriguing and Mr Crowe certainly knows how to wield a phrase (after all he was the man who coined 'you had me at hello'). The specific examples I can think of are all said by Kirsten Dunst's character Claire. In the beginning conversation on the plane that she has with Drew regarding names, he tells her that her father's name is Mitch, she replies cheekily 'so you're a son of a Mitch?' just a simple, clever word play which makes for a flirtatious moment. Later Claire describes herself as an 'ice cream cone' and elaborates this by saying 'I'm a sweet treat that will make you happy and melts in five minutes.' This is such a perfectly succinct way to sum up her character and I suspect is true of their relationship, as I get the impression that they wouldn't last long after the credits roll. I also like some of the subtle character traits like Claire's imaginary photo taking and Drew's collection of last looks.
One of the major reasons that this movie didn't move me the way it was intended to is because the story revolves around the death of Drew's father Mitch and I never got a clear idea of who Mitch was and also of the kind of relationship they had as father and son. The other contributing factor is that I didn't buy the connection between Drew and Claire and why they would be attracted to each other. Or rather why SHE would be attracted to HIM as he has to be one of the most boring protagonist's to ever have appeared on screen, while she conversely is an effervescent breath of fresh air. Even in their first initial phone call they don't seem to be making a real connection, I couldn't hear a conversation going on, all I heard was each character spouting their life philosophies. I don't think that the actors had very great chemistry and subsequently I didn't really care if they ended up together or not, in fact I think it could have been more interesting if they DIDN'T end up together and the gesture of her making the map was just a romantic memory that he would always have. After all she is a fantasy dream girl, so this ending would make sense.
There were some very peculiar scenes which didn't seem to work. There is a scene in the beginning where Orlando Bloom's character is contemplating suicide, but is interrupted by a phone call in his sister and he says (with his voice cracking) 'Could you call back later?!' I think they should have decided if that scene was intended to be either dramatic or comedic as trying to combine both styles with such a heavy subject matter didn't really work. Later in the movie Drew puts on a video to calm the kids down and there's no other way of saying this, what the hell was it? Did he have this video made specially? How did he know there would be a gang of kids misbehaving? Why would a guy blowing up a house enthrall those kids so much? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Susan Sarandon's one woman show routine at the end is another bizarre touch.
A word on the performances. I have never been a big fan of Kirsten Dunst ( the only thing I have liked her in previously has been The Virgin Suicides) but I have to concede that she was the saving grace of the film, even if her southern accent is as inconsistent as Sydney weather. Orlando Bloom on the other hand had absolutely no charisma and I think that having to do an American accent was just to big of an obstacle for him to overcome. I think that he was simply mis-cast and I think an actor like Joseph Gordon Levitt would have been able to do more with the role (although he doesn't have the pretty boy looks which it seems they wanted for this character.)
Overall this film has a certain endearing quality but failed in producing something captivating.