The Bock’s Office: ‘Aloha’ a low point for Cameron Crowe
The new movie “Aloha” may have the most appropriate title of the summer. Within minutes of saying “hello” to the film with a name that has two meanings, you’ll want to say “goodbye.”
If you go…
“Aloha,” rated PG-13
Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars
Running time: 105 minutes
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams and Bill Murray
Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.
Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) is headed to paradise, but his life doesn’t feel like it. As a military contractor, his career has changed drastically from what he had envisioned, and even a temporary assignment in Hawaii isn’t any kind of solace.
Part of that has to do with being unable to avoid his ex-girlfriend (Rachel McAdams), whose pilot husband (John Krasinski) is stationed in the isles. Another familiar face he’d rather not see is the billionaire (Bill Murray) for whom he was previously employed with disastrous results.
The latest nuisance for Gilcrest, however, is a young Air Force captain (Emma Stone) who serves as his escort around the tropics as he attempts to negotiate a deal with native landowners.
Though her persistent perkiness rubs him the wrong way, it may also be what he needs to face up to some elements of his life that he can no longer avoid.
It’s rare when you can say an entire cast feels wrong in their respective roles. Though he’s a skilled actor, Cooper isn’t someone who can play a negative person and still remain likable as he goes deeper into a shame spiral.
McAdams, likewise, isn’t convincing as military wife Tracy, whose already tense home life with two rambunctious kids (Danielle Rose Rusell, Jaeden Lieberher) and a spouse who refuses to communicate with her during his brief intervals away from missions isn’t made easier by the reemergence of the guy who broke her heart.
On the comedy side, Murray gets by but has little chance to work his magic as egotistical tycoon Carson Welch, while Danny McBride is entirely out of his element as Gilcrest’s old buddy, a twitchy colonel nicknamed Fingers.
It’s Stone’s character that truly doesn’t work, but not for lack of effort on her part. As motormouth Allison Ng — who regularly explains her heritage to anyone who will listen as being half-Swedish, one-quarter Chinese, one-quarter Hawaiian — she’s simultaneously endearing and exasperating as someone who’s perceived as a rising star in the Armed Forces, yet is oblivious to so much in front of her, perhaps blinded by a growing attraction to the man she’s charged with watching.
Or maybe she’s just an airhead.
Speaking of which, isn’t it great when white people exploit their sliver of ethnicity to lecture you about other cultures? After all, real Hawaiians take things like Menehune — the 50th state’s version of leprechauns — very seriously.
“The Descendants” at least had an explanation for this kind of whitewashing, but the level of annoyance you have with Stone’s casting should be focused on the man who wrote Ng that way, with this by far writer-director Cameron Crowe’s weakest film to date.
Who would have thought the maker of “Jerry Maguire,” “Almost Famous” and “Say Anything” could be this misguided and churn out a script this bad? The worst thing is, under a tidal wave of awful dialogue and sentimental nonsense, there are so many details that could actually have some meaning, whether as a statement about the military-industrial complex, a look at the plight of sovereign islanders or, in the form of Krasinski’s Woody, an acknowledgment of the psychological conditions of active servicemen and their families.
Instead, Crowe is firmly interested in making this a romantic comedy full of beautiful but bloated shots of landscapes that merely distract from something that will go down as the worst thing to happen to Hawaii since Pearl Harbor.
And, I include in that assertion, the movie “Pearl Harbor.”
As if Crowe’s Captain Cook approach to “Aloha” weren’t enough, there’s a smug sense of irony that makes things worse in thinking that he’s happy to wipe out like this. When Gilcrest utters the moronic line, “I have found that in its many forms, nothing beats fun,” to which Ng smartly counters, “Maybe purpose,” you see a glimpse of the wit and insight that made Crowe’s work worth watching.
Yet, if there’s a moment anywhere near that clever, you could have paraded it in front of me with a coconut bra. I wouldn’t have noticed.
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