Most are expecting Cameron Crowe’s new film, Aloha, to be a romantic comedy, and I’m going to be very amused by how disappointed they all are going to be since the film is hardly romantic or funny. Even when we’re not restricting the film to the “rom-com” label, Aloha is still a bad movie.
A star-studded cast is Aloha’s biggest attraction. The film follows Bradley Cooper’s character, Brian Gilchrist, as he returns to Hawaii to help negotiate and work out a deal to get billionaire Carson Welch’s (Bill Murray) satellite launched into space. Gilchrist used to be in love with the sky, but after a few bad life decisions and a near-death experience in Afghanistan, he’s not the same person.
It’s with the help of Captain Ng (Emma Stone), an overly eager pilot assigned to escort Gilchrist around Hawaii, and his ex-girlfriend, Tracy (Rachel McAdams), who is married and has two kids with a mostly silent Air Force pilot (John Krasinski), they make Gilchrist remember the kind of person he was and the person he wants to be.
At least that’s what I think the movie is trying to get across…
Crowe jumbles too many themes and elements to create a coherent film. I basically spent the first half of the film confused, trying to understand the relationships between the characters, how the Hawaiian myths that are repeatedly mentioned fit in with the story, and just the characters’ motives themselves. It takes a long time for Aloha to find its footing, and by the time it does, you’re too frustrated to really start caring for these characters. I do have to say that I’m amazed by how confused I was at the beginning and then how I immediately found the rest of the movie to be utterly predictable.
However, I can sort of see what Crowe was trying to do with the story. His research on Hawaii and their culture is obvious, even though it’s not integrated all that well. There is a strong Hawaiian element to the film, including a bit of jarring and out-of-place magical realism. The constant comparison between Gilchrist’s moralizing dilemma and “The Arrival” myth didn’t strike the profundity it was probably hoping for.
Despite what the marketing may tease, there’s not much of a love triangle at play in the film, which is a relief. I was fascinated with Gilchrist’s relationship with Tracy, how after so much time has passed, they still find it easy to confide in one another. Cooper and McAdams share a better chemistry than he does with Emma Stone, who plays his real romantic interest. Both Cooper and Stone can exude a ton of charm on screen, but man, put them together and it disappears. Maybe it was how deftly annoying Stone’s character initially is or just the unnatural, kind of longwinded dialogue between Gilchrist and Ng that made their romance so disappointing.
The rest of the supporting cast is worth noting. Most of the funny bits are thanks to Alec Baldwin. There’s a bit of a gag to Krasinski’s “man of little words” character. Bill Murray plays an interesting mix of zen and eccentricity as an ambitious billionaire.
Aloha may be Cameron Crowe’s worst movie, which is a shame because we know he can make great films. I can see the heart in Aloha, but it’s a faint beat, one that becomes harder to hear with every new film he releases.
Aloha is now playing in theaters.