Movie Information

The Story: A military contractor returns to his old stomping ground of Hawaii to resurrect his career but becomes entangled with both an old girlfriend and a uptight Air Force pilot. The Lowdown: An incredibly uneven, often messy film with flashes of inspiration that almost make the whole thing coalesce. Almost.
Genre: Romantic Comedy-Drama
Director: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, Bill Murray
Rated: PG-13

Aloha Movie


A day after watching Cameron Crowe’s Aloha, I’m still not sure what to think of it. In a lot of ways, I respect Crowe for making a full-on Cameron Crowe movie (we’re to the point where any sort of directorial fingerprint in a major motion picture is worth some credit). But even if this is fully his movie, we’re still a good decade-and-a-half past the two times Crowe was interesting, with Almost Famous (2000) and Vanilla Sky (2001). Aloha is messy, uneven and — occasionally — mildly embarrassing, the work of a director unfortunately past his prime.




The sheer Crowe-ness of it all is much of the problem, since his modus operandi has either tuckered itself out or simply fallen down a few notches in creativity. The pop music is there but to no real effect and is used mostly toward the beginning of the film before petering out (or simply being so uninspired that it’s unmemorable). The usual Crowe monologues are there, and while the dialogue is occasionally clever, there are some awkward moments (some Bradley Cooper exclamation about living his life “hard and fast” is both clunky and poorly delivered). Plus, everyone — even the guy (a horribly miscast John Krasinski as a butch Air Force pilot) whose whole schtick is that he doesn’t talk — gets a monologue. Even the basic plot — a morally bankrupt man finds love and a chance to resurrect his broken soul or whatever — is Crowe 101.



That last part, in theory at least, is fine, except Crowe’s gotten a little too high concept and a little too clever and a little too unrelatable. The film seems to want to do for failing military contractors what Crowe’s Jerry Maguire (1996) did for failing sports agents — with Cooper playing Brian, a former pilot who’s nearly ruined his life with a string of bad decisions but has a chance to get back on track by working for eccentric billionaire Carson Welch (Bill Murray). The job sends Brian to Hawaii — his favorite place, we’re told — but also places him in the path of a quirky Air Force pilot (Emma Stone) and a long-lost girlfriend (Rachel McAdams). Other quirky characters come and go, like Danny McBride, who has a strange tic involving his hands, or a precocious kid (Jaeden Lieberher, who at least has the fact that he’s not Jonathan Lipnicki going for him) with a video camera and a whole lot of facts about Hawaiian myths. All of this conveniently dovetails into Brian finally getting his act together.




It all feels a little dated (even the hand-held camera work feels passe) and like some lost indie movie from a decade ago. Crowe attempts to mitigate this with lots of pertinent talk about privatized militarization and the need for a moral compass, but none of it comes across as very deep, just extremely researched and, usually, totally unapproachable. Even with this, Crowe will occasionally come up with a good line or a touching moment, and it reminds you of how smart a writer and filmmaker he can be. Unfortunately, there simply aren’t enough of these instances. Rated PG-13 for some language, including suggestive comments.




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25 thoughts on “Aloha

    • Ken Hanke

      You’ve been skimming the news feeds again, haven’t you? She is supposed to be playing someone who is 1/4 Asian, and her character is based (according to Crowe) on a real person.

    • Mike

      It’s not like she’s wearing yellow face. There are a lot of people of mixed race whose precise ancestry you might have a hard time identifying.

      • Ken Hanke

        Exactly. It was after I’d hung out with Jennifer Tilly for three days at the 2006 AFF that I even knew she was half Chinese.

        • Edwin Arnaudin

          As The Daily Beast’s Jen Yamato said on Twitter, “Asian Emma Stone isn’t the problem; she looks like some of my cousins. But the rest of the cast is SO white.”

          • Ken Hanke

            Where is Warner Oland when you need him most!

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Sounds like a good use of Avatar technology.

          • Ken Hanke

            Almost certainly a better use of that technology.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Just about anything is better than how Cameron used it.

  1. T.rex

    My most hated genre of movies. “Movie stars on vacation movie”.

    • Ken Hanke

      But is that what it is? I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know. But really does every movie set in a pleasing locale far away from where the movie stars life not qualify for this peculiar pseudo-genre?

      • Edwin Arnaudin

        My most hated genre of movies. “Movie stars on vacation movie”.

        So…all films should take place in mundane surroundings? When I hear “Movie stars on vacation movie,” I think of something like Grown Ups 2 where the cast just goof off together and happen to be filmed in the process.

      • T.rex

        The Descendants. Now there is a fantastic film in a beautiful locale.

        • Ken Hanke

          While I wouldn’t call it a fantastic film, it’s a film that is actually about its setting. Whether Aloha is, I can’t say. But so many films that are set in…oh, let’s say, “exotic” locales only exist or came about because of those locales. This is true whether we’re talking about the soundstage-and-rearscreen of Road to Zanzibar and That Night in Rio, or if we’re talking about actual (partly) location work like The Black Camel (the only Charlie Chan picture to be shot in Hawaii) and Donovan’s Reef. What I fail to see is how any of this is “movie stars on vacation.”

  2. Xanadon't

    A sizeable chunk of the horror genre is devoted to movie stars– no, scratch that– pretty people on vacation/shit goes horribly wrong. Most are terrible but every now and then a choice title comes along.

    • Ken Hanke

      Yes, you did, but I took pity on you and approved your reprehensible vulgarity. (The profanity filter is moronic.)

  3. Xanadon't

    Thanks for pardoning my wayward predilection for the profane.

    • Ken Hanke

      I wonder if the name “Dick” still triggers it. I complained about that one after the Oscar debacle. Me typing it proves nothing, since I’m immune from the filter.

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