A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
On Tuesday night, at a Los Angeles multiplex, writer-director Cameron Crowe introduced his latest film, “Aloha,” to a packed audience of media and regular moviegoers alike. This would be a highly unusual gesture in and of itself—filmmakers rarely show up randomly just to say hi, especially ones who are as established as Crowe—but what he said was just as unusual.
It was a plea: Take this film for what it’s intended to be, a love letter to Hawaii. Tune out the peripheral noise that’s surrounded it for months. Have an open mind and heart and enjoy yourself. He never specifically said the words “Sony hack,” although that’s clearly what Crowe was referring to: the release of embarrassing e-mails that revealed his star-studded romantic comedy was in trouble based on early screenings. “Aloha” also has drawn criticism for its perceived lack of Hawaiian characters (although there are indeed some).
Even if you didn’t know any of that going into the film, though, the sensation of tinkering and re-tinkering would be inescapable. This is the rare Crowe film that could stand to be a little longer, that could use some more development in its characters and breathing room in their relationships. As it stands now, “Aloha” feels like several films at once, crammed together and sped up, with results that are emotionally hollow and narratively confusing.
You can see the editing, and not in a good way. It’s obvious in big developments that make you go: “Huh?” but also within individual scenes, with cutaways to different camera angles that disrupt the flow of dialogue. And the dialogue itself—the thing Crowe made his name on in his great, early films “Say Anything …,” “Jerry Maguire” and “Almost Famous”—so frequently strains for his signature poignancy that it feels like a parody of a Crowe script.