In the world of art, there’s a saying that whenever someone gets very comfortable with their work they’re screwed. Whether it’s in literature, painting, music or films, no one should become relaxed in what they do. Aloha is the perfect example of this. The story and ideas offer nothing that is surprising or engaging. The film revolves around a contractor, Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper), who travels to Hawaii to oversee a project for a billionaire planning to launch a new satellite above the islands. Accompanying Gilcrest on his journey is an Air Force pilot named Allison Ng (Emma Stone), who is aware of his cynical reputation and strives to reacquaint him with the happier side of life.
Cameron Crowe is known for making films where many of his protagonists are idealists trying to do good while searching for self-fulfillment. Crowe takes some steps backwards this time around. The romantic elements, such as Gilcrest’s relationship with Ng, feels very contrived and lacks any sense of real development. This is especially noticeable when he hints at a possible love triangle involving a former flame of Gilcrest’s, Tracy (Rachel McAdams). Though they haven’t seen each other in 13 years, Tracy is now married to a military pilot named Woody (John Krasinski) and has two kids, there are clearly some feelings that still linger.
It is among these moments where the sense of the obvious hinders Aloha. The emotion that Crowe tries to evoke feels manipulative rather than genuine. Even his attempts at humor are forced. The character of Woody, who is silent for much of the film, is odd, and his lack of verbal conversation with Gilcrest is just really stupid. In fact, there aren’t a lot of characters who are fully fleshed out in the film. The subplot involving the satellite that Bill Murray’s Carson Welch wants to launch is poorly handled as is the stuff involving Gilcrest’s past with former superior General Dixon (Alec Baldwin).
In addition to the lackluster script, Crowe’s direction is both uninspiring and likely to offend some viewers. He portrays the Hawaiian natives as folklore loving individuals who live in trailer parks; a direct contrast to the white characters living in comfortable houses and hotels. Crowe also doesn’t do anything visually to make the story engaging. He and cinematographer Éric Gautier present a very bland version of Hawaii that is far from the paradise that has been portrayed in so many other films.
Another aspect of Aloha that is very problematic is the fact about 90-95% of the film is largely dominated by music. Regardless of whether its Alex & Jonsi’s ambient score, Hawaiian folk music, or pop songs, Crowe’s use of music does not help drive the story, but distracts us from it. Do we really need a scene where General Dixon instructs the DJ to play Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to the Rule the World?
The laziness in the overall production is also reflected in the performances by the talented cast. Bradley Cooper is hampered by the script which never truly allows his character to develop. He is constantly caught between playing the cuckold and portraying a person in need of a change. Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray, and Danny McBride, who plays the role of an air force colonel named Fingers, are not given much to do. The same can be said for Rachel McAdams who tries her best to evoke something out of her scenes with Cooper. John Krasinski’s character is essentially a walking joke, and Emma Stone, who does have her moments as Alison Ng, is reduced to an annoyingly bad combination of an idealist and a Manic Pixie Girl.
Aloha isn’t just Cameron Crowe’s worst film to date, but it’s also one of the worst films of the year. It is hokey, sappy, and just downright insulting to anyone that has a brain. The film tries to be all things to all people and offers them nothing more than a middle finger to the audience. In the end, Aloha is a horrendous film by Cameron Crowe that is practically a parody of his better works.
© thevoid99 2015