Aloha readers! Unfortunately, I am not in Hawaii so I have work with the next best thing: Watching and reviewing a movie that takes place entirety in Hawaii. And what better person to direct that movie than Cameron Crowe!
Crowe’s Aloha tells the story of Bradley Cooper’s Brian Gilcrest, a former military contractor returning to Hawaii. There he reunites with an old flame, Tracy Woodside (Rachel McAdams), while igniting a new one with Allison Ng (Emma Stone). He is also there working in some capacity with Danny McBride and Bill Murray. I would say more, but I honestly couldn’t describe it very well at all. Jumping through multiples stories and characters, there is a lot of heart here but is buried deeply underneath an uncomfortably boring movie.
I am a huge fan of Crowe’s work as a filmmaker and writer. Nearly every one of his films are infused with so much life and wonderful, fun characters. Always including a great soundtrack and solid dialogue, even his worst movies aren’t all that bad. Aloha starts out so promising and in great Cameron Crowe fashion. A needle hits a spinning record, followed by a song by The Who, and the list of actors screams greatness. The roller coaster analogy fits well with this movie. It has its moments, but quickly falls, and stays down for too long.
Almost Famous was a love letter to music. According to Crowe, Aloha is a love letter to Hawaii. Almost Famous is far superior because it never forgot about the music and how personal it was to Crowe. It is almost autobiographical. Aloha struggles to find a consistent tone, juggling too many plots that we honestly don’t care that much about. I don’t think Crowe cared about them either. As far as I know, he googled random plots he could use and picked one at random. What he should have done is focus more on the Cooper/McAdams relationship rather than whatever military, space, rocket, etc… plot he did give precedence. I find it hard to describe because of how little I payed attention to it while watching.
The performances in this aren’t anything to celebrate either, they’re just fine, nothing more. The second Emma Stone appears on screen she is literally a cartoon. She’s supposed to be a overachieving pilot in the military but acts like a caricature, always smirking and talking to herself. Even in a scene where she salutes Cooper, the sound effects are horrifying. I did warm up to her eventually though, one reason being I can’t hate my future wife for too long, and also because she toned it down a lot. Her chemistry with Cooper always felt awkward as well, once again proving that we’re meant for each other. On the other hand, the chemistry between Cooper and McAdams was a lot better and more interesting. I could believe they had a history and still had feelings that were being discovered. John Krasinski plays McAdams current spouse, and was also my favorite character because he killed it in every scene. He basically plays a mute the whole time, but like Cooper tells us, he is actually saying quite a lot.
Brian Cox in Adaptation tells us your movie is only as good as your ending. If that’s the case, then Aloha is a fantastic movie. I won’t give it away here, but will say that it was so powerful in its simplicity. Like Krasinski, no words are said, and it is better that way. The actors’ faces say it all, wrapping it up nicely, giving you something to smile about when you leave the theater. I almost believe I would enjoy this movie more if it were a silent film.
I saw this movie twice. I had to leave early the first time, and each time the theater was filled with senior citizens (who talk way too much.) I guess that the 10 million dollars made over its first weekend is probably so low because of the senior discounts they all get. In all honesty though, Aloha is not the horrible, 21% rated film it is on Rottentomatoes. It’s biggest problem is that it’s just not that interesting. There are some funny scenes, good performances, and a great soundtrack, but it is ultimately a contrived, artificial story. Seeing this not knowing the director, I may have liked it more, but because of my love for Crowe’s other films and huge expectations for Aloha, I am disappointed. However, I can always find comfort by revisiting William Miller and Stillwater.