Acclaimed writer/director Cameron Crowe's new movie "Aloha" has been hammered by critics — it's at 14 percent positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes at press time. Now, in what's seen by some as a desperate attempt to draw any audience they possibly can, they're giving away the movie's first eight minutes online. (Warning: Contains adult language.)
Rotten Tomatoes sums up the critical response thusly: "Meandering and insubstantial, Aloha finds writer-director Cameron Crowe at his most sentimental and least compelling." The movie was also slammed in leaked emails from the Sony hack.
The Seattle Times' Moira MacDonald calls the movie "nearly unwatchable." Variety's Andrew Barker describes it as "unbalanced, unwieldy, and at times nearly unintelligible." And Chris Nishawaty from Entertainment Weekly, in one of the kinder reviews, writes that “the unfortunate, inescapable truth is, the movie really is that terrible.”
The beginning of the movie is a slow start — it opens with archival footage for almost the first two minutes. Then you get another minute and a half of exposition opening monologue from Bradley Cooper, combining Hawaiian music and some signature Crowe classic rock reminding you this movie isn't "Almost Famous."
The film's writer/director Crowe is the celebrated filmmaker behind “Jerry Maguire,” “Say Anything” and “Almost Famous.”, but he looks to have lost his touch in the star-studded film. The might of Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski combined doesn't appear to be enough to save this one — rarely has a movie made by an Oscar-winning director been so brutally savaged by reviewers.
Go watch those first eight minutes and and let us know in the comments whether a few minutes of a Hawaiian Air Force base is enough to get you to give the rest of this one a chance in theaters.
We tried to find out more about what went wrong, so the Frame's John Horn sat down with Daniel Miller, Los Angeles Times film business writer:
This is the type of film aimed at upscale adult moviegoers, who read reviews, right?
That's fair to say. This is a highly anticipated movie. People remember Cameron Crowe from hits like "Jerry Maguire" and they want to see what he's cooked up next. People opening up newspapers or reading reviews on websites today are likely to be disappointed by what they see.
"Aloha" is a Columbia Pictures release and it was discussed, sometimes not very favorably, in some private emails among Sony executives that were hacked. What did the executives say about their own studio’s film?
Amy Pascal, then the co-chairman of Sony Pictures, maligned the movie in an email to her colleague. She said, 'I'm never starting again when the script is ridiculous.' Comments like those went viral on the Internet and the hacked emails have sort of become this albatross that the movie is troubled by to this day.
There are surveys in Hollywood that gauge audience interest in upcoming releases. How do those so-called tracking surveys say “Aloha” is going to open?
If those surveys are to be believed, this movie could take in $10 million over its opening weekend — perhaps even less than that. That's a very poor start for a film that cost in the range of $37-38 million to make and, of course, many millions more to market.
What are they trying to do to make the word of mouth change?
This week, Sony made a pretty bold move and put the first eight minutes or so of 'Aloha' online so that people could watch it for free, and I suppose to decide for themselves whether they wanted to pay to see the rest of the movie. I thought that was interesting, they're looking at this movie 'Aloha,' the reviews are very poor and there's controversy swirling around it. And executives say, 'Well let's put it online, maybe we'll get some mileage out of that, maybe get some social media mileage out of it and perhaps we can convince a few people to go see it.'
There’s been backlash about how race and culture are depicted in the film. Emma Stone portrays a character who is a quarter Hawaiian and there aren’t many Hawaiian natives in the film. The Media Action Network for Asian Americans says “It’s an insult to the diverse culture and fabric of Hawaii.” Should the filmmakers have seen this coming?
It's interesting. I've read reviews — even negative reviews — that have said that the filmmakers took some care to create an accurate depiction of Hawaii. But of course in the principal cast, there are no Hawaiians, and that's something organizations can certainly seize upon. I do wonder if some of the controversy about the depiction of Hawaiians [and] Hawaiian culture in the film has been cemented simply by the other controversy connected to this film, which is those hacked emails.
Also, if you want some Baldwin, he isn't in that opening, but you can watch him in the film's trailer:
This story has been updated.