In keeping with the countless surreal events of the past few weeks, I accompanied my good buddy Paul Schneider to his first big NYC premiere on Monday night. After picking him up at his Paramount-sponsored room at the Ritz Carlton and connecting with his agents (who, I can say in all honesty are completely on-the-level and nice--seriously), we hopped in a car and trekked about a quarter of a mile away to the theatre.
Getting out of the car, the insanity hit me like a bad splash of water. As Paul made his way to the red carpet/tent, I stood off to the side and watched him disappear inside. (Oh, I guess I should point out that he had gotten a haircut and was sporting a dapper suit that made him look like old-school Hollywood royalty.) Apparently, during the course of his red carpet journey, he referenced jerking off and mentioned something about having sex with Keanu Reeves. I'm sure his agents were thrilled, but it's good to know that he didn't click into 'someone else.'
To Brian's credit (one of his agents), he tracked down tickets and gave me mine. I've had experiences where I'm with the "celebrity"/client and as long as he's there the agent/manager/whatever is nice to me, but when he splits it's like I'm no longer there. But this fella looked out for the tag-along loser friend. So thanks Brian!
In the theatre, I helped myself to two bags of free popcorn, then watched giddily as Paul reunited with Loudon Wainwright, a moment that will be forever planted on my brain. He said to Paul, "This is my son, Rufus Wainwright," then said to Rufus, "He plays my son in the film!" It was pretty amazing, mostly because I'm such a huge Rufus fan.
Judy Greer, Susan Sarandon (and the truly weird Tim Robbins), Kirsten, Orlando... the gang was all there. And then the film began.
You know how in JESUS' SON, when Billy Crudup watches Samantha Morton dance and they have this exhilaratingly real burst of a connection? Well, that doesn't happen in ELIZABETHTOWN. No offense to Orlando Bloom--actually, I guess this is about as offensive as you can get, so what I mean is "nothing personal," though that doesn't work either--but homeboy was absolutely wrong for this part. He's sitting on an airplane looking like a mailbox (albeit a handsome one), and this quirky stewardess takes this ridiculous shine to him. But the problem is that when there's really nothing to latch onto, Kirsten Dunst's character simply comes off as a hopelessly desperate psychopath. Which doesn't bode well for the rest of the picture.
As for Paul, I think I can objectively say that he steals the show. He is both hilarious and sincere and I wish there had been more of him in the final cut. I would have ended the film with Drew's departure from Elizabethtown and fleshed out the characters and subplots that developed in that environment. It sounds like there was more than enough footage to do just that. The whole post-funeral road trip is like an extended Hallmark commercial that is too over-the-top to take even somewhat seriously.
Still, it was pretty amazing to see Paul on screen rocking out with My Morning Jacket, even if they didn't show enough of it.
After the film, we hopped in a car with Paul's agents and the very friendly actor Scott Speedman (who is great in MY LIFE WITHOUT ME, if you haven't seen that) and headed to the after party at some place called Providence. We stood around outside for a while, then when we went to walk inside the girls at the door asked us for our wristbands. Paul said, "I'm in the movie," to which they froze up and said, "Oh... okay." That left me. I said, "I'm his lover," to which they froze up even harder and said, "Oh... okay!" And we went inside.
The party was typical. Lots of star power--Cameron Crowe, Paula Wagner, some SNL guy, Kirsten, Orlando, PAUL, etc. It was great to see Paul's mission so heartily accomplished. He would get introduced to someone who had NO IDEA that he was Jesse in the film, at which point they'd spit out some generic (though genuine) flatteries. Rufus squeezed past me at one point and I almost said hello, but I decided against it. I did have a great chat with costume designer Nancy Steiner, who's resume is pretty hard to top. She's really sweet and cool.
After only an hour or so, Paul and I split and headed back to the Ritz Carlton, where we proceeded to mack on some insanely overpriced room service. Orlando was on Letterman, and when they cut to a commercial, who was there but Paul! The entire spot was focused on him, even going so far as to include a freeze-frame of him playing the drums! A perfect end to a really great night.
Then we got our Straight Men, Same Bed on until another ridiculously overpriced, though yummy, breakfast arrived. And then I headed downtown to pick up my things, get on the Chinatown bus, and say farewell to NYC once again (though perhaps not for long).
If Paul was in the film more, or if it concentrated more on the characters in Elizabethtown, my rating might be higher. But as it is, I have to give it two stars. But you should see it anyway to see Paul rock the house! He's really great...