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One day in a couple of years – maybe when his next movie comes out – Cameron Crowe will explain what went wrong with ALOHA. It’ll probably be a more engrossing story than the one that ended up on the screen. I’m a HUGE fan of Crowe’s films (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, We Bought a Zoo). When his movies work, they’re unique and welcomed entries in an otherwise depressing movie climate; honestly humanistic, and free of cynicism without venturing into the maudlin.

ALOHA is being released amidst a swarm of horrible buzz, set up in part by Sony chief Amy Pascal’s damning leaked emails blasting early rough cuts of the film. The movie has a lot of power in its corner – mainly a wildly romantic locale, and a wonderfully captivating cast led by the hottest stars working today in Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone and audience favorite Bill Murray. I’m sure every one of them was thrilled to be in a Cameron Crowe movie. And I’m sure they were all painfully aware that they were in the wrong Cameron Crowe movie.

Something went terribly awry somewhere. Is it possible that these talents only signed up for the film because they wanted to work with Crowe, and yet they knew the script didn’t work? Did they think they could fix it as they went along? Did Crowe suffer some kind of crisis in the middle of shooting and lose his feeling for the material? Did the studio meddle a bit too much in the process? Did the earlier cuts present a better version of the film than the one we’ve been given?

As it stands, everything in ALOHA feels too vague; the story, the characters, the conflicts. It’s a movie set on auto pilot. Very little in it is earrned, so when those “you had me at hello” moments come, they feel too strained because the movie has failed to invest its audience with any level of goodwill or empathy.

It must be said, though, that the final minute of the film soars with a really lovely authenticity of emotion (literally, the final minute). And it all hinges upon the most incredible moment of performance I’ve seen this year (by a teenage female supporting character). If you do go see it, do it for that one beautiful shining moment, and for the challenge of deciphering what went wrong with the 96 minutes that come before it. D+

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