‘Aloha’ Movie Review – There Were No Good Times
Cameron Crowe is, for better or worse, known for his 2000 hit comedy-drama Almost Famous. The movie perfectly blended comedy, charm, and character to make for a great, and I think we can now start considering it “timeless”, experience. It was probably unfair to expect the same from Crowe’s latest, Aloha (especially since Crowe’s filmography since Almost Famous has been very hit-or-miss). Still, I don’t think it was wrong to hope for a little bit of the same charm and character. Aloha has the slightest glimpses here and there but it’s not even close to being almost there.
Based on its title, it’s pretty easy to figure the film takes place on the Hawaiian islands. Hawaii is known for a lot, and Crowe exploits Hawaii’s military roots with a story that involves a defense contractor, Brian (Bradley Cooper), and his spunky Air Force pilot partner, Allison (Emma Stone). Even above them, there’s a space aspect to the film that involves a billionaire entrepreneur (Bill Murray).
But this film is far from military drama or a sci-fi spectacle. No, no, no, it’s got to be a romantic comedy. It then makes perfect sense Rachel McAdams would make an appearance as Brian’s old fling, Tracy.
Yes, that was sarcasm.
Crowe, who also again wrote and directed his rom-com, focuses a great deal of time on Brian’s character. He may have earnestly thought Brian’s character had the most potential or he wanted to spend as much of the 105 minutes as possible panned in on Cooper’s blue eyes. Perhaps it was a combination of the two.
For the second time in as many movies, Stone’s character is the scene-stealer. In the rightfully critically-acclaimed Birdman, Stone had an off-the-wall performance that had some (myself included) asking for an Oscar. She’s not that good in Aloha, but her character is best described as a spitfire and is a good counterpart to Brian.
Their relationship has a decent enough arc to carry most of the movie, but Aloha falters most by incorporating some other subplots that just don’t work. Tracy (McAdams) has it the worst because she comes off as a stuck-in-the-past ex-girlfriend. She certainly doesn’t come off as a balanced, confused character like she was likely conceived as.
Then, of course, there’s the whole space story that’s seemingly tacked on for the sole purpose of creating a terribly cliché resolution. Crowe does a good job of cluing the audience into what space represents early on but the story still feels ill-conceived.
Therefore, cliché is about the only way to describe how it translates from paper to screen.
I hate to completely rip on Aloha (which I’ve admittedly been doing from top to bottom) because it’s certainly not THAT bad. However, as a – believe it or not – romantic-comedy apologist, I was hoping Cameron Crowe could be the one to give us the rom-com that broke out of the mold. I wasn’t expecting Almost Famous (that’d be unfair) but I was expecting more than Aloha.
Aloha is out in wide release as of yesterday. Check out the official site here.
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