Director: Cameron Crowe
Run Time: 1h 45m
You know that thing where someone talks a whole bunch but doesn’t actually say anything? It’s usually reserved for reality stars, politicians, and babies of YouTube. Adding to the list of offenders: the characters of Aloha.
I did not hate Aloha right after I saw it. I didn’t like it, but hatred was not on the radar either. However, it’s taken me over a week to write this review because my reaction is swinging more towards hatred than before. I struggled to come up with a logical way to describe this movie because it is not itself logical. There are a few parts that work, but many more that don’t. The longer I agonized over this review, the more absurd it becomes. The worst part is: it could’ve been so great!
Unfortunately there is no good way to describe the plot of this movie. I didn’t realize until I tried to put it down in black and white how absolutely all over the place it really is. Essentially: a guy named Brian (Bradley Cooper) comes “home” to Hawaii to negotiate a blessing on behalf of the Air Force and a billionaire (Bill Murray). Along the way he encounters his ex (Rachel McAdams) but falls for the whitest ¼-Hawaiian Air Force chick you could find (Emma Stone). Nothing is ever that easy, life is hard, business is harder, and love is the hardest…whatever.
Aloha tried too hard to be about heart that it forgot to factor in any sense at all. (Shout out to my brother for reminding me that’s what the heart does sometimes.) However, life doesn’t have a group of writers and producers who can comb over facts and make sure everything flows the way it’s supposed to. This movie would be cute if it didn’t have such a heavy subplot involving the military and weaponry. When writing, stick to what you know and don’t stray so far outside the lines that you forget how to tie it all together. The writers obviously wanted a smart script with smart characters and a lot of heart. If Brian had lost his job, was coming home to live on his mom’s couch, had the whole town constantly reminding him of how good he used to be, all while falling for the quirky girl in town…then it might work. Maybe.
As I stated in my first paragraph, another issue with the film was the dialogue. Every character was so long-winded that even they forgot what their point was by the time the finished a conversation. There was no point. Nothing anyone said had value or merit because they were just trying to sound artsy for no reason at all. To give you an example, Bill Murray’s character is essentially the villain of the film. He should be the last person dishing out iconic proverbs of wisdom. Yet he has a lady following him around asking him deep questions for no other reason than to have him deliver…iconic proverbs of wisdom. The pretense is there will be a biography written about his character, but when the audience is smarter than your characters we catch these things.
The talent in this movie was wasted. From the fluffy dialogue to the hollow story, not even the likes of Cooper or Murray could save you from realizing this movie is crap. They could fool you for a time perhaps, like they fooled me. But if you stop and think about it for even a moment you will see it clearly.
In addition to Brian not actually having any problems to face, my biggest issue was how he managed to fall in love with Emma Stone’s character. She is passionate and adorable, but Brian originally found that annoying. He doesn’t share her appreciation for Hawaiian culture or religion so how does all of that suddenly become endearing? When I say “suddenly”, I mean literally within a matter of days. If you have absolutely nothing in common with someone, a few drinks and a Hawaiian jam session are not going to melt your heart of stone. Maybe you’d make a one-night mistake, but not a life changing decision of “Hey, I think this could really work!” Nope, not buying it.
One last side note: the movie was supposed to be released in December so I could’ve agreed to overlook the “finding hope at Christmas” cliché. Too bad the only reminders that it was Christmas were a few lights and a Santa beheading–both of which were in the same front yard. Cameron Crowe should’ve waited until the following Christmas to release. Maybe he would’ve had more time to realize everything wrong with his film and fixed it.
Surprisingly, John Krasinski’s Woody is my favorite thing about Aloha. As cheesy as the non-verbal communication thing was, it was in my opinion the best part of the whole movie. He nailed the facial expressions and managed to evoke more emotion and demand more presence than any of his wordy cast members. Although, I could’ve done without the subtitles in his last scene.
All in all, if you had asked me a week ago I would’ve told you Aloha isn’t as bad as you may hear. Now I am urging you to wait until it comes on Netflix if you really want to watch it. It’s free that way.
I’ve only seen a few of Crowe’s movies, but my favorite remains Jerry Maguire. You had me at “hello”.