People always ask me what movies I’m looking forward to. I rarely look forward to certain movies because of an actor or director I like, because they’ve all done crap at one time or another. And the movies that end up impressing me (Ex Machina, While We’re Young, Kingsman: Secret Service, to name a few recent ones)…were movies I expected very little from.
Former San Diegan Cameron Crowe has done great films. He wrote Fast Times at Ridgemont High, one of the best teen comedies ever. Say Anything was overrated, but had its moments. Everyone liked Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, but does anybody remember the interesting Singles? It starred Matt Dillon and lots of great Seattle musicians (and had an amazing soundtrack). Heck, I even liked Vanilla Sky (Tom Cruise). I’ve never met anybody else that’s liked that film.
I didn’t see Elizabethtown, which was universally panned. Unfortunately, I did see We Bought a Zoo (and I haven’t met anybody that didn’t love that disappointing real-life story).
Now…Crowe get a cast of A-listers, filmed in Hawaii…what could go wrong? Apparently, a lot.
Maybe Crowe enjoyed The Descendants as much as we all did and wanted his own Hawaii picture. That’s fine, but this script is so uneven and ridiculous, you wish he would’ve done a rewrite. It’s a sloppy mess.
For example, the first scene in which we get Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams and Bradley Cooper all together meeting each other…there’s not a single thing realistic about it. Stone plays Air Force captain Allison Ng, which might be hard for some to buy. I’d have no problem with that. My bigger problem was how they introduce her character. She’s this gung ho soldier that wants to solute everyone, not speak in conversational tones but with lots of military jargon and a “by the book” attitude. Cooper is playing that loafing character (i.e. Limitless and Hangover films) that just doesn’t care. He is quick to dismiss her and then ignore her when he sees his old girlfriend (McAdams) on the airport runway. It makes you not only hate him, but wonder why he is still pining for a woman he dated 13 years ago. It made me wonder why the script was written so poorly and unfocussed.
The movie is written, directed, and produced by Crowe. The blame lies directly with him.
This jumps from being a love triangle to dealing with Hawaiian nationalism and mysticism, nuclear weapons, and a few other subplots and supporting characters I’m forgetting. Well, I’ll give it a try.
Danny McBride plays “Fingers.” He has a tic that has him moving his fingers a lot. He has a few slightly amusing scenes.
Bill Murray is playing Bill Murray. You know the character – Unkempt hair, snarky comments (that are supposed to be humorous because, well…it’s Murray saying them). He’s a billionaire but doesn’t seem to have a care in the world. Well, aside from rockets he wants to be orbiting.
Alec Baldwin is playing Alec Baldwin; an angry military type that tells you what to do and usually yells while ordering you to do it.
John Krasinski plays…well, a ridiculously written character. He’s the husband of McAdams, who just so coincidentally flies Cooper into Hawaii. McAdams is thrilled to see him and for some reason, immediately starts confiding in him (for reasons that don’t make sense). She complains about her marriage and the fact that her husband isn’t a big talker. That does make for a rather amusing scene when he and Cooper look at each other while he grabs a beer, and Cooper tells McAdams everything that was said between the two of them without words during that minute. When they attempt a similar scene later, it’s with mixed results.
All these supporting characters aren’t fleshed out the way they should be.
The movie is also hard to understand at times. Brian Gilcrest (Cooper) used to be a military contractor who is now working for the wacky billionaire (Murray), who apparently doesn’t mind hiring him despite the fact that he stole $100,000 from him previous (again, why are we supposed to care about Gilcrest when we keep finding out this stuff about him?). Gilcrest, for some reason, has to be in Honolulu for the launch of Murray’s rocket. It’s part of a military/civilian partnership that is designed to bring more money into the space program.
There are also moments in the movie, like a lot of films the last few years, that have characters that are really into stars and space.
Baldwin keeps warning Cooper to stay away from Stone. She was assigned to “look after” Gilcrest, who’s such a screw up, that made more sense than the military just having a more reliable employee involved. Stone immediately falls for him, but we’re not sure why. I suppose it’s because he’s been involved in a lot of missions she was curious about. Yet she knows he’s such a dog (womanizing, among other things). At one point, she takes off in her car, yelling “You’ve sold your soul so much, nobody is buying.” Well, this movie gave us so much BS, no audience members will be buying. You certainly won’t buy the romance. There’s no chemistry, and it just makes little sense as to why it would happen. The relationship with McAdams makes a bit more sense, aside from the lack of back story involved there.
We can always count on Crowe to do a great job with music. We get The Who’s “I Can See For Miles,” but not much else (I did hear 2 seconds of “A Day in the Life” in one scene with lots of sounds mixed in at once).
Aside from the sloppy writing, there’s one scene where a character quickly says “Oh sh*t, oh shoot! Oh sh**, oh shoot!”
The response? “Well, is it ‘sh*t’ or ‘shoot’?”
Reminds us of the Sean Penn line in Fast Times. This entire movie reminds me of how much I miss the old Cameron Crowe. Perhaps he’s run out of things to say, I don’t know. His number of bad movies is starting to catch up to his number of great ones.
This gets 2 stars out of 5
(side note: shout-out to former Point Loma High School grad Joe Hutshing, an Oscar winner and editor of many Crowe films, who works on this).