Say Anything... is a pop culture milestone — 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 — Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, and John Krasinski — 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.