Ever since Jerry Maguire showed him the money, Cameron Crowe has had a hard time making movies that stick.

Sure, the director-writer who first made his name with Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Say Anything delivered Almost Famous after Jerry, a film which made good use of his past as a Rolling Stone scribe in its depiction of a 70s band on the verge of greatness. But it didn't exactly rock the world.

Of his movies since, We Bought a Zoo was charmingly mediocre and Elizabethtown was terrible.

And now, here after many years of delays, is Crowe's biggest, most ambitious movie yet.


It's a film that's part-romantic comedy, part-treatise on several other subjects - among them the weaponisation of space and the aspirations of the native Hawaiian nation. It's also awful. Occasionally fascinatingly so. But truly awful.

It's overwritten, lumbered by all sorts of quirks, a story that starts out nonsensical, and goes downhill from there and supposedly smart characters who spout nonsense at each other.

It's one of those films where you might think "why did this ever get made?" Or "what was this film going to be?" Especially as the feeling you get is that the assemblage on screen has done a few tough rounds in the rewrite room and edit suite trying to find a point to its story.

It's a strange movie where Rachel McAdams, usually such a forgettable presence, emerges as the only character who works or seems remotely believable.

But most of the film is spent in the company of Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone. He's Brian Gilcrest, a former USAF guy, who wanted to be an astronaut as a kid. He's wound up a disillusioned contractor to a brilliant squillionaire (Bill Murray, who seems to be in another movie entirely) wanting to send his own rockets into space in a private-military partnership. He's in Hawaii to negotiate some sort of deal with the locals (led by real-life native leader Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele) and gets fighter pilot Allison Ng (Stone) as his chatty military escort.

Only Brian has a troubled romantic history. He's barely off the plane before he's run into old girlfriend Tracy (McAdams) who he abandoned more than a decade earlier.

She's now married with kids. But they still have issues. The issues, however, will come and go throughout the movie.

A lot of things do. Hawaiian mythology crops up quite a bit via one of Tracy's kids who is mainly there to be one of those cute quirky kids that have cropped up before in Crowe movies.


That mythology also turns up on a backroad of Oahu in a very strange scene. It's one of many that shows this movie has abandoned any tone control early on.

Stone's performance does her no favours, though her character is utterly daft - a fighter pilot who is not only so talkative she would surely run out of oxygen before she runs out of fuel and a military officer who asks things like: "Who doesn't believe in the sky?"

Oh and she's apparently very proud to be a quarter Hawaiian too. She dances well in a pointless party scene with Bill Murray. So that's something.

Otherwise Aloha is Hollywood's biggest Hawaiian wreck since Michael Bay sunk those ships in Pearl Harbour.

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams
Director: Cameron Crowe
Rating: PG (Coarse Language)
Running time:105 mins

Verdict: A major wipeout

- TimeOut