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    "Aloha" Is The World's Most Bewildering Romantic Comedy

    It's got a gorgeous setting and a great cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Rachel McAdams. But here's where Aloha loses its way.

    Say Anything... is a pop culture milestone β€” John Cusack, standing with the boombox over his head, is one of the '80s most enduring images. Jerry Maguire? Infinitely quotable. And Almost Famous, the best of Cameron Crowe's big-hearted bunch, is so earnest and open that it repels cynicism like a force field, offering up a fervent tribute to being one of the uncool. Though at this point, Crowe may be experiencing not just a few bad years, but an entire bad decade, he's more than earned his place in the sincere-cinema pantheon with this earlier work, including Singles and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which he didn't direct but adapted from a book he wrote toward the end of his precocious journalist days.

    This is why Aloha, which arrives in theaters already notorious thanks to leaked Sony emails signaling serious internal displeasure with the movie, is so goddamn bewildering. It's not bad so much as alien, like a romantic comedy made by someone who's researched human behavior but had very few brushes with it in person. It has a strong cast β€” Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, and John Krasinski β€” and a familiar Crowe-type story about a disgraced man finding redemption, thanks, in part, to the love of a wide-eyed woman. But the actual details are all totally confounding, from the reason Cooper returns to Hawaii to why he left over a decade before to what his deal is in the first place to the exchanges of dialogue that are supposed to be fast and flirty, but instead feel like something out of Mad Libs. Crowe, who wrote and directed Aloha, seems to have forgotten how to make a movie. Here's a closer look at its weirdness.

    Bradley Cooper is disillusioned by his job, which is totally incomprehensible.

    Emma Stone plays a fighter pilot who's one-quarter Native Hawaiian and one-quarter Chinese.

    The flirty banter is borderline unintelligible.

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    "Why don't you just have what you want?" Rachel McAdams, who plays Brian's ex-girlfriend Tracy Woodside, says to him when he arrives at her house for dinner. It's an awkwardly worded offer of hospitality that allows Brian to counter with "Do you have what you want?" β€” referring to Tracy's life with her military husband Woody (John Krasinski) and two kids (Lieberher and Danielle Rose Russell). Aloha is filled with fast-paced, clever-ish but not actually clever exchanges like this, particularly between Tracy and Brian, whose first meeting in 13 years is made up of dueling non sequiturs. "Will you stop getting more beautiful?" he asks, and she responds by telling him he has to meet her kids, which isn't really a brush-off, any more than what he said was a come-on. Also, her husband is right there, having flown Brian in in the first place.

    Aloha has the rhythms of a screwball comedy without having the dialogue to match it. Fittingly, one of its best conversations involves no words at all, featuring a character whose introduction the movie unfortunately fumbles. It still works well enough that Aloha tries the trick again almost immediately afterward, in a scenario where the silence makes no sense at all, with another character who you'd think would have many questions, and who's not at all served by the quirk of the scene's staging.

    The movie constantly tells you about its hero's specialness without ever showing it.