Flashback Friday 2015: San Andreas and Aloha

To review: Friday Flashbacks are, in most ways, the creation of my brother-in-arms Tim Sheridan. For the past several years now, the week before a big summer movie release, he watches a film related to it. So I’m stealing a modified version of that idea and writing about a movie or movies that relate to a release coming next week. So, today, for instance, I am talking about movies relating to May 29th’s releases.

Related is a broad category but I will always at least try to explain why I chose it as “related.” It could be direct (the movie coming out is a sequel to the movie I am writing about), or connected by director, writer, star, or theme. I’ll do my best to make it clear, I promise.

Ok, that’s enough adieu. Let’s jump in.

Coming May 29- SAN ANDREAS and ALOHA

If I had to guide you for this week, I’d say this: avoid SAN ANDREAS as the ratio of good natural disaster films to bad ones is horrible and Dwayne Johnson, in what seems to be a role that gives him no chance to tap into his unlimited charisma, would appear to be the genre’s latest victim.

On the other hand, do go see ALOHA. I know Cameron Crowe’s career has dropped a bit from the high water mark of Almost Famous, but his hits to misses favor the hits and he deserves the chance. I’m not…heartened by the trailer, but I remain hopeful.

The Rundown (as prep for SAN ANDREAS)

 "No, seriously, hear me out. You ARE a paragon on charisma." (photo from filmsack.com)

"No, seriously, hear me out. You ARE a paragon on charisma." (photo from filmsack.com)

I wanted to do a movie directed by SAN ANDREAS’ director Brad Peyton, but then I looked at his filmography, so, you know, not going to be doing that.

So instead we go with star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and I wanted to skip his franchise offerings. Once I did, this slight but still worthy entry presented itself.

As directed by Peter Berg and shot by Tobias A. Schliessler, The Rundown is a surprisingly pretty movie for an action comedy. What really makes it work though is the surprising deft comic chemistry between Johnson as a buttoned up (but no guns ever!) bounty hunter and his quarry Seann William Scott. Christopher Walken, fully in his “is there a paycheck involved?” hyper weird cameo phase shows up as well to add a little spice.

This will not be anyone’s idea of a great comedy but it bounces along at a good clip and is so sure of itself, you won’t hesitate to follow. It’s the kind of middle road fare that won’t really stick with you but is a fine way to while away a couple of hours.

We Bought a Zoo (as prep for ALOHA

 Individually, we are all pretty great. So what the hell happened? (photo from aceshowbiz.com)

Individually, we are all pretty great. So what the hell happened? (photo from aceshowbiz.com)

Look, I’ll be perfectly clear. This most recent offering from writer-director Cameron Crowe is… bad. It looks weirdly cheap, the pacing is lousy, Scarlett Johansson and Matt Damon have zero chemistry. And so on. The redeeming feature is the dad-children relationship although even that gets treacly at times.

For the typically very good to great Crowe (yes, I would say even Elizabethtown and Vanilla Sky qualify for praise) it was bizarre. Even if you agree with many critics that Elizabethtown was a disappointment, Zoo is such an aggressive drop in quality, it is startling.

Hopefully Aloha will turn things around.