"You sold your soul so many times, nobody's buying anymore.”
The final 20 minutes of Aloha completely feel like a Cameron Crowe movie since it ties everything up neatly without being overly cheesy. It still is sentimental and has a couple of quotable lines, especially in a scene where Rachel McAdams is reading a letter from her husband. It also has some funny moments, my favorite being the scene in which Bradley Cooper and John Krasinski stare at each other understanding what the other is saying without speaking a single word (but we get to read the subtitles and it is a hilarious scene). Aloha ended in a rather strong note for me, but unfortunately the film is 105 minutes long and the first two thirds of the film make very little sense. The introduction of every character in this movie is done in such a rushed way that none of them feel authentic or interesting. The plot is a mess and it is all over the place at times so I agree with all the hate the film is receiving, but I honestly don’t know how Crowe managed to engage me in those final 20 minutes considering I didn’t care for these characters or their story, so I will give him some credit for at least ending Aloha on a strong note. At the beginning of every year, I make a list of my most anticipated films and Aloha was one of the top 10 movies I was looking forward to basically because I’m a Cameron Crowe fan and have enjoyed all his previous movies (I defended his lesser films: We Bought a Zoo and Elizabethtown, which I was a strong fan of). It also didn’t hurt that he had a wonderful cast to work with: Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, and Alec Baldwin. And to top it off Crowe was setting the story in the gorgeous islands of Hawaii. So what could go wrong? Everything did from the writing to the casting of the characters and in the end I simply couldn’t defend Crowe on this one. At least I went into it with much lower expectations so I wasn’t disappointed and ended up mildly enjoying it for its final twenty minutes. I still have to catch up with Crowe’s earlier film, Say Anything, and hopefully after watching that he will regain my trust again.
Aloha centers on Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper), a military contractor who is returning to Hawaii after 13 years to convince the King of the island (Dennis Bumpy Kanahele) into giving them a 20 minute blessing in the approval of an Air Force gate. Brian is currently working for a millionaire named Carson Welch (Bill Murray), who is planning on launching a satellite from there. Brian’s ex girlfriend, Tracy (Rachel McAdams), continues to live in the island, but she is married now with Woody (John Krasinski) and has two children. Upon Brian’s arrival the two meet up and they continue to be very fond of each other. During his visit, an Airforce pilot named Allison (Emma Stone) is assigned as his watch dog and despite an awkward introduction the two begin to form a friendship, thus creating a sort of love triangle. Danny McBride and Alec Baldwin have small supporting roles as military officials.
The plot doesn't make much sense throughout the entire film and the narrative seems to be missing something. I don't know if it's the way the film was edited or simply because of the screenplay but it is incoherent. Crowe has always excelled as a writer so it's difficult to understand what went wrong here. The entire mythology surrounding Hawaii and their belief doesn't make much sense either and it doesn't add anything interesting. For example, Tracy's son, played by Jaeden Lieberher, is always filming everyone with his camera and talking about more of the island's mythology, while Allison also seems to be in awe of the spiritual energy of Hawaii, and she tells everyone she meets that she is one quarter Hawaiian. That Emma Stone was cast in this role is the least of the film's problems (I've met many white folks who are Asian descent and you'd never notice it). As much as I love Murray and Baldwin, their characters are given nothing to work with here and they are completely wasted. Cooper, Stone, and McAdams had a rough start but eventually their characters grew on me. Krasinski is the actor who comes out of this film best, but I'm afraid Crowe missed out on an excellent opportunity to direct these talented actors in such a wonderful location.