Movie Review - Aloha

John Krasinski, the only good thing in 'Aloha'
It feels like a Cameron Crowe film, a romantic comedy of a sort, a tad quirky and building to a dramatic punch with something topical or sociopolitical as a strong undercurrent. However, it feels like it was made by someone who watched Cameron Crowe's films and is now trying to imitate them but doesn't quite get why those films were so powerful or worked as well, or else the Cameron Crowe imitator here is just lazy or too tired. The problem is that there is no imitator here. The writer and director of this lesser Cameron Crowe is Cameron Crowe himself.

Bradley Cooper has become one of very few actors to receive three, consecutive Oscar nominations for acting. His first two nominations were for playing manic and high-energy characters. His third nomination was for a character who barely spoke and communicated mostly through body language. His character here, Brian Gilcrest, is somewhere in between. Brian is a military contractor who was injured during his time in Afghanistan but now has returned to Hawaii to help negotiate a land deal for a private space company. Yes, a company that launches things into outer space!

Emma Stone (Birdman and The Help) co-stars as Allison Ing, an Air Force Captain who is assigned as a liaison or a kind of attaché for Brian as he conducts this deal. She is very enthusiastic, very peppy, optimistic and idealistic. She keeps reiterating that she's one-quarter Hawaiian and she makes no bones about her belief in Hawaiian myths.

Brian is reluctantly paired with Allison as he meets with Hawaiian representatives. The details of what his goal is aren't made explicit initially. Allison merely tags along, as the two drive and eventually trek across the island. The scenery and the action of hiking through the forests, hills and mountain back-drop are reminiscent of the ABC series Lost. Yet, when it comes to the meeting with Hawaiian natives and whether to embrace the myths and folklore, the naturalism as opposed to the encroaching military industrial complex, which Brian represents, the TV show The X-Files comes to mind with Allison being Agent Fox Mulder and Brian being Dana Scully.

If the film had continued to delve into the issue of American imperialism in Hawaii, then I could have been more on board with this narrative. A T-shirt worn by one native reads, "Hawaiian by Birth, American by Force." I would have liked to have seen more native Hawaiians expressing themselves like that and learning about their lives. If the film had done more to make the Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders fully-fleshed out characters rather than the lei-wearing, sky-worshipping and hula-dancing stereotypes, then I could have been more invested with all of this.

Rachel McAdams (The Notebook and Sherlock Holmes) plays Tracy, the ex-girlfriend of Brian who has now been married to Air Force pilot, Woody, played by John Krasinski (Leatherheads and It's Complicated), and has been raising two children for 13 years. This family and Brian's involvement with them are ultimately pointless and structurally or substantively are nothing but filler and pad. If Tracy were instead a Hawaiian native and had more of a connection to the other plot, that would have helped, but, as it stands, Tracy and her family are a big waste of time.

The only redeeming part of Tracy's family is Woody. First off, John Krasinski's presence is actually a sexier presence than Bradley Cooper. This movie shows no sign of the weight that Cooper added to his body to bulk up for American Sniper. In an obvious face-off, Krasinski stands taller, more muscular and just as handsome. Crowe also gives him the quirk of having absolutely no dialogue. Krasinski literally does not speak for this entire movie, aside from one brief line and yet his character is somehow the most interesting and expressive.

As a result, Krasinski is given the genuinely, only funny moment where subtitles translate his non-verbal reactions and body language. All the rest of the comedy falls flat. Even Alec Baldwin yelling and Bill Murray dancing can't save it. Speaking of which, where the movie goes with Murray's character is pretty out of this world.

Murray's character is made into a villain, which would have been fine if he were simply developed more. Murray plays Carson Welch and his villainy comes out of nowhere. At first, he's a quirky corporate type and stays that way, but by the end we're supposed to believe he's some kind of a megalomaniac who needs to be taken down. I just didn't buy it.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 45 mins.


  1. IF everything I'm hearing is true, then this film is highly exploitative and deeply problematic.


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