There was a time, not all that long ago, when it appeared that Cameron Crowe was on his way to becoming a great film writer/director. It peaked roughly 15 years back when he grabbed the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for 2000’s “Almost Famous”, and then began a rapid death plunge the following year. Can he resurrect his flagging career, with his eighth feature film (not including his documentary work), “Aloha”? There are a number of signs in CC’s favor. Multiple Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper, scorching hot after the mega-hit “American Sniper”, is “Aloha”‘s male star. The female lead? None other than Emma Stone–fresh off of her Oscar-nominated turn in Best Picture winner, “Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”. Throw in Academy Award-nominated stars Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin, along with the gorgeous and talented Rachel McAdams–and “Aloha” has the look of a winner.
Of course, after penning the script for 1982’s influential “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, Crowe made his debut as a feature director, with 1989’s “Say Anything”, which he also wrote the screenplay for. It has a sizable cult following. Come to think of it, so does “Singles”, his 1992 followup. But Cameron finally hit pay dirt, with 1996’s 5-time Oscar nominee “Jerry Maguire”, a monster Tom Cruise-starring smash, that nailed a Best Supporting Award for Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Show me the money!”). 2000’s “Almost Famous” made modest dollars, but it was a 4-time Academy Award favorite–including the win for Mr. Crowe. But 2001’s “Vanilla Sky”, despite solid box office and Tom Cruise leading the cast, confused many–and has built a tepid reputation. 2005’s “Elizabethtown” was a poorly received dud, while 2011’s “We Bought a Zoo” made some dough–but its family friendly goofiness seemed quite a distance from Crowe’s distinguished prime. So, it appears that Cameron may have a bit of an uphill battle with critics and audiences alike. And on May 29th, we’ll find out if they give “Aloha”, a hello or a goodbye.