A billionaire wants to launch his own rocket into space, but there may be a nefarious motive behind it, so a flameout military contractor with extraordinary hacking skills has to grapple with a decision which could either save the world or end his career.

That, friends, is the plot of Cameron Crowe’s latest, Aloha. Did anyone get any of that from the trailer? Anyone?

Throughout the entire runtime of the movie I kept waiting for the quirky romantic comedy that I thought I’d been promised, but it never came. And I left the theater still not quite sure of what I’d just seen.

Crowe is admittedly as difficult to decipher as any mainstream writer/director at work today; Elizabethtown and Vanilla Sky are downright odd, and even his “normal” movies like Say Anything and Jerry Maguire are just enough left-of-center to prompt a little head-scratching. But Aloha is his most bizarre offering yet. And not in a good way.

It’s a rambling, often incoherent mess of a film that does nothing more than make Crowe look like a borderline-pretentious hack. The dialogue is supposed to appear to be the work of a poetic genius, but more often than not it’s simply indecipherable. The setting of Oahu’s south coast is supposed to be lush and exotic, but it’s completely squandered and serves no purpose. And the characters are supposed to entertain us with their eccentricities, but not a single one of them is even remotely appealing.

Bill Murray, who plays the billionaire, has turned in some stellar performances in his later years, from Lost in Translation to Moonrise Kingdom to St. Vincent, but I’ll forever wonder what he was thinking when he agreed to sign on to this project. I can only assume that he, along with the rest of the cast (Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Alec Baldwin, John Krasinski, Rachel McAdams), just saw Crowe’s name on the script and took it on spec.

To be fair, there are a few tiny (tiny) glimpses of the quirky romance that Crowe gave us in his earlier films– though nothing remotely approaching seminal moments like a boombox blasting “In Your Eyes” and a weepy Renee Zellweger telling Tom Cruise he had her at “hello”. Much is actually made throughout the movie of how people can say so much without uttering a single word. (At one point, two characters hold an entirely silent conversation as subtitles interpret their looks.) I’ll agree that some things are better left unsaid.

Aloha is one of them.

1.5/5 stars