Variety‘s James Rainey has posted a piece about Cameron Crowe‘s Aloha (Sony, 5.29), otherwise known around these parts as Son of Deep Tiki. Rainey wasn’t given much to work with. He tried to arrange a conversation with Crowe, but the director-writer declined. Rainey asked Sony publicists to let him see Aloha to prepare the piece, and they declined. Rainey quotes that infamous leaked email criticism of Aloha by ex-Sony chief Amy Pascal, in which she said “it never, not even once, ever works.” Rainey tried to get Sony execs to talk about the relationship dramedy on the record, but they agreed only to speak as anonymous sources.

Rainey also notes that Sony has assembled only one trailer for the film — never a good sign. And yet one nameless person emphasizes that the version of Aloha that Pascal was talking about last fall has since been tightened and improved. It “probably” won’t do the business of Crowe’s Say Anything or Jerry Maguire, a source admits, “but is it a really entertaining movie for an audience? Yes, it is.”

In a recap of Crowe’s career Rainey never mentions the stinkbomb that was Elizabethtown (’05), and he also declines to mention the original Son of Deep Tiki — Crowe’s earlier (2008) incarnation of Aloha which would have costarred Ben Stiller and Reese Witherspoon. In other words Rainey can read the writing on the wall and is seemingly trying to be a nice guy. But the Variety illustration that accompanies the piece isn’t trying to be that nice. It’s an image of a surfboard-paddling Crowe about to get creamed by a huge wave.

With this kind of buildup all Aloha has to do is be half-decent and critics will do cartwheels in the lobby.