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Despite Likeable Cast, Aloha Will Bid a Quick Hello and Goodbye

  • Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2015 28 May
  • COMMENTS
Despite Likeable Cast, <i>Aloha</i> Will Bid a Quick Hello and Goodbye

DVD Release Date: August 25, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: May 29, 2015
Rating: PG-13 (for some language including suggestive comments)
Genre: Romantic comedy/Drama
Run Time: 105 min.
Director: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, Bill Murray, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin

Aloha has endured a pretty tumultuous voyage from the mind of celebrated writer/director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous) to a theater near you, so one would hope it was worth the wait.

Original leads Ben Stiller and Reese Witherspoon eventually dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, so Crowe retooled the script to feature younger protagonists, landing the camera-friendly likes of Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Emma Stone (Birdman) and Rachel McAdams (About Time).

But after the e-mails of former Sony Pictures executive Amy Pascal were leaked during the infamous hacking scandal (she called the movie, not to mention the script, "ridiculous"), the once highly anticipated film's release date was bumped yet again, from Christmas 2014 to the last weekend in May 2015.

Now as someone who has been an enthusiastic fan of Crowe’s previous work and even found plenty to like about recent critical and commercial flops We Bought a Zoo and Elizabethtown, I'd love to say that Pascal’s comments, as well as the ominous word-of-mouth, were unwarranted and shockingly off-base. However, there’s a reason (several, really) that Aloha has such bad buzz and little in the way of marketing or television spots. It’s basically the Joe Versus the Volcano of 2015.

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In the same way the charming onscreen duo of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan couldn't save poor Joe from total stinkerdom, Cooper's blue eyes and easy chemistry with Stone likewise aren't enough to redeem Aloha. With a lackluster storyline that's essentially a low-rent mash-up of some of the big themes from Jerry Maguire and the aforementioned Elizabethtown (hot-shot man is humbled, grows a conscience and eventually recovers from catastrophic failure thanks to the love of a good woman), Aloha's lack of originality isn't its only problem. It also lacks a plausible plot and substantial character development.

And considering the film is set in a pretty fantastic locale (Hawaii, naturally), what's also curious about Aloha is how little of Hawaii we actually see. Sure, there's lots of random information sprinkled into the script about Hawaiian myths, culture and traditions, but the inclusion of these factoids is basically a head-scratcher because they serve no greater purpose in the narrative and fail to offer a captivating sense of place. Like the half-baked romances that populate the story (more on that in a moment), it simply feels like filler.

Additionally, if something is billed as a romantic comedy, the viewer will have preconceived expectations. While there are a handful of mildly amusing moments involving cameos from Alec Baldwin (Blue Jasmine) and Bill Murray (St. Vincent), Aloha is desperately short on laughs. As for the romantic side of things? "Equally uninspired" are the words that immediately spring to mind.

It certainly doesn't help that Brian's ex-girlfriend, Tracy (McAdams), is married and a little too excited about him coming to dinner. As for Stone's perpetually peppy Ng (that's her last name), her flirtations with Brian may be convincing, but there’s not enough substance to suggest these two are "meant to be," either. It’s like the fast-forward button has been hit on their relationship when in truth it never really began.

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The big moral dilemma that Brian eventually faces also has little real-world resonance. The way the "mission" is explained doesn't make a lick of sense, and the suspension of disbelief required to roll with it borders on a Transformers level of ridiculous.

Amazingly, Aloha even mysteriously lacks a killer backing soundtrack and a keen understanding of human nature, which are signatures of Crowe's craft. He was never afraid to show a character's flaws, which made his or her redemption all the sweeter in the end. With Aloha, the people involved are nothing more than thinly drawn caricatures of actual living, breathing humans. That, combined with a storyline that's barely a story to begin with, gives Aloha zero chance of having you at hello.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Brief cigarette smoking in opening credits. Social drinking, sometimes to point of tipsiness.
  • Language/Profanity: Not pervasive but a few expletives scattered throughout, including one f-bomb and exclamations of God and Jesus's names.
  • Sex/Nudity: Brian and Ng sleep together, but nothing aside from kissing is shown. A quick pan to a video of two hamsters having sex. A couple of risqué innuendos. A man discovers he has a daughter he never knew from a previous relationship.
  • Violence/Thematic Elements: Woody and General Dixon clearly have some anger issues. Discussion of war injuries. The potential launch of a nuclear weapon could put civilians in harm's way.

Publication date: May 27, 2015

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