Synopsis: A celebrated military contractor returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs and re-connects with a long-ago love while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog assigned to him.
Release Date: May 29, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Throughout his career in Hollywood, writer/director Cameron Crowe has made some truly classic movies. He’s the man behind the teen comedy Say Anything., the rock & roll cult movie Almost Famous, and the Oscar bait chick-flick Jerry Maquire. Now, keeping with his anything-goes mantra, here’s Aloha.
Aloha is about a former military pilot named Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper from American Hustle) who is brought to Hawaii to dedicate a new pedestrian gate for the local Air Force base so that rich civilians can, if they so desire and can afford the billions that it takes, launch satellites into space. Brian, along with a young Air Force pilot named Captain Allison Ng (Birdman‘s Emma Stone) who has been assigned to assist him, has to help make all of the necessary arrangements for the gate’s construction, a list of tasks which includes securing land from a native Hawaiian kingdom and acting as a liaison with Carson Welch (St. Vincent‘s Bill Murray), the first billionaire who wants to use the base for his own private space program.
Aloha is also about Brian visiting his ex-girlfriend, a woman named Tracy Woodside (Rachel McAdams from A Most Wanted Man), who is married to John ‘Woody’ Woodside (John Krasinski from “The Office”), one of the airmen stationed on the base. Brian finds himself in the middle of an awkward love triangle as he wants to reconnect with his lost love without destroying her marriage, but also finds himself attracted to Captain Ng as he spends more time with her.
Yes, Aloha really does have the distinct feeling that it’s two different movies with the same characters. Brian’s actual assignment on the island is the military thriller portion of the movie, with him being forced to play both sides of the political coin as her tries to figure out Carson Welch’s real reasons for wanting to launch a civilian satellite into space. Then there’s Brian’s real reason for coming to Hawaii – the hope that he can somehow reconnect with Tracy, the long-lost love of his life, a task which is complicated by his attraction to the lovely-yet-intense Captain Ng. These plots and subplots would normally be perfectly fine, except that Aloha doesn’t know the difference between plot and subplot, so it just kind of mashes them together into one big schizophrenic smorgasbord of attempted comedy.
The movie is not a total wash. In typical Cameron Crowe style, the dialogue is witty and the story is, at times, compelling enough to hold the audience’s attention for the hour and three-quarters that it asks for it. What’s missing is the heart, soul, and charm that viewers have come to expect from Crowe and his movies. Aloha is full of stock characters that are stuck in predictable situations, and that just leaves true Cameron Crowe fans wanting to watch Singles again.
The performances of the cast in Aloha are somewhat uneven. On paper, it looks like a great cast: Oscar nominees Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Bill Murray, and Alec Baldwin (The Cooler), plus perennial fan-favorites Rachel McAdams and John Krasinski. Cooper and McAdams are easily the bright spots in Aloha, both completely within their elements bringing a comfortable comic sensibility to their respective parts. Murray and Baldwin, both in fairly minor roles, basically phone their performances in with inconsistent results. Stone and Krasinski are each stiff and wooden but, in their defense, so are their characters. Still, a good actor should be able to breathe life into a stale character, and neither Stone nor Krasinski is able to do that here. The acting in Aloha is a mixed bag, much more so than it should be from such a talented and experienced cast.
One of the best decisions that Cameron Crowe made with Aloha was to shoot the film on location in Hawaii. Cinematographer Eric Gautier (Into the Wild) does a masterful job at capturing the natural beauty of the island while still managing to let the images tell the story. Through Cameron Crowe’s friendship with Hawaiian nationalist leader Bumpy Kanahele (who plays himself in the film), the Aloha production was granted access to shoot in the village of Pu’uhonua O Waimanalo in the Nation of Hawai’i part of the island, so the traditional Hawaiian sections of the film look authentic. The military base segments of the film were shot at Hickam Field Air Force Base and its Fort Kamehameha housing development, and those scenes capture the tiny bit of mainland that is nestled amongst the mountains and trees of the island. For both locations, Gautier lets the characters and storylines do their things while still showing off the breathtaking beauty of the scenery. The energy and isolation of Hawaii are an important part of the film, as Aloha‘s events take place both literally and figuratively on an island. The stunning locations combined with Gautier’s naturalistic eye for capturing them are Aloha‘s biggest selling points.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Cameron Crowe
- Producer(s): Cameron CroweScott Rudin
- Screenwriter(s): Cameron Crowe
- Cast: Bradley CooperEmma StoneRachel McAdams John KrasinskiBill MurrayDanny McBrideAlec Baldwin
- Cinematographer: Eric Gautier
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Deborah Lynn Scott
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Jon Thor Birgisson
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA