Cameron Crowe has taken a lot of heat for white-washing the characters in this rom-com set in Hawaii, featuring Polynesian cultures and myths.
The man cast Emma Stone as a Chinese and native Hawaiian character – come on, Crowe.
But let’s get past this screw-up. You can get one of two things from Crowe as a filmmaker. You could get rich, detailed stories like “Almost Famous” and “Jerry Maguire,” or you could get dramatic malaise like “Elizabethtown.”
But every Crowe offering has nice moments because he knows how to write relationships, and Bradley Cooper and Stone can throw down on rom-coms.
Add in strong genre veterans like Rachel McAdams and John Krasinski. Toss in a couple of grizzled professions like Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin. What it’s missing is a connection to its setting, and that’s a shame. Sometimes the script crackles, and Cooper and Stone’s chemistry pops. The clouds around the casting just distract too much, so say sayonara, Zaijian, aloha and pass on this one.
Award-winner actor Helen Hunt writes, directs and stars as a mother who leaves behind her successful editing job in New York to travel to California after her son drops out of school to become a surfer and a writer.
Hunt fills in all the story gaps with surfer philosophy and writer lore as her character leaves her fast-paced publishing world behind to learn to surf and connect with her son.
The film is a bit by the numbers. The young and talented Brenton Thwaites plays the son with flares of insight, but for the most part, it’s a pretty lukewarm performance. Luke Wilson has been up and down lately. Here, he’s right in the middle, playing the love-interest but not bothering to add any cool dynamics.
This ride seems a little too flat, and maybe you should pass until a better wave comes along.
Comedian Nick Kroll plays a conceited entrepreneur who goes bust in Manhattan and moves out to the suburbs to live with his sister’s family and become his nephew’s nanny. This family comedy sounds very reserved for Kroll, a guy raised on sketch comedy.
The story is a crossbred of its makers. Director Ross Katz’s last film was “Taking Chance,” a movie about transporting deceased Marines, and writer Jeff Cox is right at home penning over-the-top tales about male figure skaters – “Blades of Glory.”
Shades of light and dark are shone throughout. The sister is ably portrayed by Rose Byrne. In the last five years, Byrne has climbed into the spotlight, starring in a baker’s dozen of big titles from “X-Men: First Class” to “Neighbors.”
The electric Bobby Cannavale also comes along for the ride, and he has flashes, but his potential is subdued. Overall, something feels like it’s missing, but there’s enough to begin with. That makes it barely worth a watch.