Movie Review: ‘ALOHA’ – A Meandering Trip To Hawaii

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Susan Kamyab // Guest Critic

ALOHA | 100 min | PG-13
Director: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, John Krasinski and Bill Murray

It’s hard to believe the man who brought us SAY ANYTHING… and JERRY MAGUIRE could have made such a disappointing flop. Director Cameron Crowe may not be on any winning streak with his previous films (WE BOUGHT A ZOO), but they still always managed to convey some kind of genuine emotion that left the audience somewhat satisfied. However, in his recent passion project, Crowe misses the mark completely. ALOHA never quite finds its direction and is layered with a mess of undeveloped subplots.

In ALOHA, Bradley Cooper stars as Brian Gilcrest, a jaded military contractor who was wounded and shamed by an incident in Afghanistan. When he is given a second chance to redeem himself, he must return to Hawaii and face a past love (Rachel McAdams) and a potential new one (Emma Stone).

Gilcrest is assigned to be looked after by air force pilot named Allison Ng (Stone). The two butt heads for about 10 seconds before they realize their immediate attraction towards each other. Their bickering soon turns into a fest of them giving each other googley eyes. All the while, Gilcrest has reconnected with his ex-lover, Tracy Woodside (McAdams), who is now married with two children. One of whom strikes an uncanny resemblance to him. Hmmm, interesting? Tracy is married to the non-speaking, John “Woody” Woodside (John Krasinski). His lack of communication is used as a running joke throughout the film, but eventually wears thin as it gradually goes from funny to absurd.

With the quick set up of this love triangle, you would think we’d been introduced to the film’s central focus. But you’d be wrong. Sadly, there is no central focus. This story takes you in so many different directions, that by the second half of the movie you just don’t care what it’s about anymore.

Bradley Cooper and Rachel McAdams film a scene together for ALOHA on the beach in Oahu, Hawaii. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.

Bradley Cooper and Rachel McAdams film a scene together for ALOHA on the beach in Oahu, Hawaii. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.

ALOHA‘s crutch might have to do with its crowded all-star cast. Alongside Cooper, Stone, McAdams and Krasinski, the film does its best to try and make Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray, and Danny McBride relevant to the story. The movie would have probably worked better if we got to see four people discovering themselves through an appropriate amount of development, but instead it is ruined by unnecessary characters involved in a ridiculous and forced subplot: Gilcrest’s expertise is required for a controversial rocket-launching headed by an eccentric billionaire, Carson Welch (Murray) and General Dixon (Baldwin) of the U.S. government. Who cares? Exactly!

Honestly, I would have much rather delved into what seemed like a gut-wrenched relationship between Tracy and Woody. Why doesn’t Woody talk? How are they going to fix their problems? It might have led to similar topics we’ve seen before, but there were a lot of layers within the Woodside family I would have liked to peel.

There is a silver lining to this wreck of a movie: what starts out sloppy and confusing does eventually conclude well and ties all loose ends. It’s just unfortunate that any resolution to the plot feels underwhelming, as the audience is never allowed to truly anticipate a climax.

Though ALOHA features a strong cast and entertaining soundtrack that blends well with the beautifully captured scenery of Hawaii, the film can’t recover from the disorienting first act and the struggle to find its identity.

ALOHA opens nationwide today.

Courtesy of This Chix Flix

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.