I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Susan Kamyab // Guest Critic
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.
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