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Aloha – Movie Review

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Aloha – Movie Review

Rating: C- (Below Average)

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Watching Aloha, there’s a definite Cameron Crowe feel to the film and memories of Jerry Maguire certainly flutter through one’s mind. Yet something seems to be missing with the film, mainly a connection to the characters. Almost every plot element that occurs in the script is for the sake of the story, but there’s little rooting interest in the two leads getting together. Some moments of inspiration occasionally shine through, but the plot is too thin for even those to make a lasting impression. Mixing the romance with a messy subplot about a planned satellite launch and it feels like a longer cut exists somewhere that will inevitably finds its way to a later Blu-Ray release.

Through most of Aloha, we follow Bradley Cooper’s Brian and Emma Stone’s Allison, but how much do we actually learn about them? Just as important, does the presence of Brian’s ex-wife and her new husband add any major plot developments? The whole script feels disjointed with the pieces in place, but there’s little to connect the dots. There is barely any connection felt between Brian and Allison and it feels like they only become romantically entangled, because it’s demanded of this genre. Cooper is decent and tries his best to bring some semblance of a real character into his thinly written protagonist. Stone, unfortunately, lacks the charm she exhibits in her other roles. Her performance feels forced and awkward most of the time as she attempts to showcase a spark in Crowe’s dialogue, but it all feels off. The character was originally written for Reese Witherspoon, but one can also envision Elizabeth Banks as Allison.

The other major plot, involving the launch of an expensive military satellite, is jumbled together with the romantic elements and feels like it belongs in a separate film. The role this plays in the story is convoluted and gets lost, even as Crowe’s screenplay is spouting exposition and Brian is narrating. The highlights of these portions are the very small roles from Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin. Murray is his usual calm and collected self and even though he’s handed an underwritten character with a messy motive, his ability at deadpan delivery remains untouched. Baldwin, meanwhile, gets by far the best scene in Aloha as he flexes his Glengarry Glen Ross muscles and showcases an explosive rant that makes one wish Crowe had written a movie about his army general instead. That scene, along with a couple where Cooper and John Krasinski trade words through nods and glances, shows some of that Crowe magic we remember from Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous that’s unfortunately non-existent through most of the film.

Even the choice to set it in Hawaii never quite flies. Aside from the emphasis on the military situated on the island state, there’s little reason to have the story there. The Descendants showed films can depict Hawaii without portraying it as a tourist hot-spot, while still highlighting the culture there. Aside from one minor supporting character, the native people of Hawaii are mostly pushed into the background and play nary a role. There are tiny glimpses of what makes Hawaii such a recognisable locale, but the film could have easily been set in Nevada or California or Texas and made little difference. This all makes Allison’s constant talk of the Hawaiian gods that much more forced and it’s obvious the entire screenplay was written from an outsider’s perspective.

Aloha doesn’t help the romantic comedy genre in breaking out of the funk it’s currently in. It’s all over the place, lacking in the proper emotional resonance and not indicative of Cameron Crowe’s talents as a writer and director. The film was delayed from its original release date in December to its current spot in late May, maybe to edit and tweak the film. However, another trip to the editing suite may have been smart as the plot remains a mess that not even the best efforts of the actors can save. It’s a diversion that will be quickly forgotten after next week, which is not a sentence I want to type when describing a Cameron Crowe film.

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Review By: Stefan Ellison

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