Film Review: 'Aloha'


Bradley Cooper, left, and Emma Stone star in Columbia Pictures’ 'Aloha.' © 2015 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

An uneven script and a lack of character development tarnish Cameron Crowe’s latest full-length feature

Where to begin with writer/director Cameron Crowe’s new film Aloha? Well, there’s the not entirely believable plot, the underdeveloped characters and that it seemed like the beautiful location of Hawaii was used merely as a backdrop. All of these things contributed to a film that, at best, I would describe as muddled.


Bradley Cooper plays Brian Gilcrest, a military contractor that was injured after a flubbed mission in Iraq, who has returned to Hawaii working for eccentric billionaire Carson Welch (Bill Murray) to assist with a satellite launch mission, part of which involves getting a gate blessed by the indigenous Hawaiian people.

Emma Stone plays Capt. Allison Ng, an Air Force F-22 pilot, who has been tasked with babysitting Gilcrest during his visit to Hawaii. Ng is one-quarter Hawaiian, a fact that is brought up multiple times. She’s known to her fellow airmen as a “fast burner,” has an appetite for life, but keeps her nose to the grindstone when it comes to work.

In returning to Hawaii, Gilcrest comes face to face with a former flame, Tracy Woodside (Rachel McAdams), who is married to Woody (John Krasinski), an Air Force C-17 pilot who doesn’t talk. Together the couple has two kids, 12-year-old Grace and 10-year-old Mitchell, who is very interested in Hawaiian mysticism. The former couple seems comfortable around one another, but there’s a tension simmering below the surface. When it eventually gets addressed, it’s rushed.

And speaking of things being rushed, while Gilcrest is having this tension-fest with his ex, he and Capt. Ng are on the fast track to being the next big it-couple on the island. And herein lies one of the biggest issues with Aloha. It seemed like there were two different movies happening, one where Gilcrest has returned to Hawaii and struggles to make things right with Tracy and another where Gilcrest returns to Hawaii and falls for the Air Force captain assigned to keep an eye on him during his “hush-hush” assignment. Crowe needed to narrow down the scope of his film and decide which story he wanted to tell, because with all of these different story arcs, there was no time to really get to know who these characters are.

There are a couple of shining moments during the film, one of which was a dance between Murray and Stone to Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That” during a holiday party at the base. The other was a silent, yet charming conversation that takes place between Woody and Gilcrest.

Unfortunately, not even the bright moments erase the fact that the script and the characters needed more work. Even with all of the star power that this film had in its arsenal, from Cooper to Alec Baldwin, Aloha never really finds its footing.