Aloha A full 14 years have gone by since The New Yorker's David Denby declared that Cameron Crowe needed to reconsider his very reasons for making movies. The implication was that, after Vanilla Sky, the rest of us had run out of reasons for wanting to see them. But Crowe has continued to release flicks since then – maybe not quite as frequently as he used to, but still with a solid, once-every-half-decade regularity that corresponds roughly to the timetable of my Dad's kidney-stone flareups. And Crowe can still get A-list actors to work with him for some reason, which is why his latest, Aloha, puts Bradley Cooper on the romantic radar of Emma Stone. Cooper plays a defense contractor (hey, is he succeeding Tom Hanks as movies' most gung-ho G.I. Joe action figure?) who is working on the launch of an important weapons satellite. In the process, he falls for Stone's character, an Air Force pilot. Will they cement their attraction the Crowe way, by exchanging mix tapes? Probably not; that's so early aughts. Fun fact: In preparation for her role, Stone learned to fly a military plane, which means there's at least one thing she can do that George W. Bush can't. (PG-13)
San Andreas The trick of programming a summer-movie slate is figuring out which spectacles the vast majority of the American public would most like to see. You know, like the state of California crumbling into the ocean. That's what happens in San Andreas, as a mighty earthquake lays waste to our nation's major exporter of table wines and nude selfies. Helicopter pilot Dwayne Johnson watches in horror as Los Angeles takes the hit, then realizes immediately what he's duty-bound to do: Fly up to San Fran to rescue the daughter who wants nothing to do with him. See, it's a subtle metaphor for the terrors parents face when they let their kids run off to communities so warped by sexual libertinism that they'd make Sean Penn their elected representative. (Just what we've been pining for since the 1970s: a movie that's a cross between Earthquake and Cruising.) Oh, and ex-wife Carla Gugino is along for the ride too, which means we're guaranteed lots of healthy mutual recrimination as stuff goes crunch. Director Brad Peyton cut his blockbuster teeth on the sequels to Cats and Dogs and Journey to the Center of the Earth, making San Andreas his acid test for launching an original franchise. (It helps if you construe "original" as "new to people who have never made it to the back of Universal Studios.") (PG-13)
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.