“Aloha” Movie Review

    Though writer/director Cameron Crowe has churned out a number of outstanding films in his career (“Almost Famous”, “Say Anything”, and “Jerry Maguire” to name a few.), his latest offering, “Aloha”, is perhaps his worst film since “Vanilla Sky”, but in a completely different way.  While that film made no sense whatsoever, “Aloha” at least attempts to present a somewhat cohesive story, but falls apart with a confusing narrative, severely underdeveloped characters, and a number of third act conclusions that are presented in an unnecessary and rapid fire manner which does none of the characters involved any justice in the end.  An overabundance of A-list talent is washed away along the beautiful shores of the film’s exquisite Hawaiian setting, as the story primarily focuses on a love triangle between three of the film’s characters played by Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Rachel McAdams.  Fellow actors like Bill Murray, Danny McBride, Alex Baldwin, and John Krasinski are barely given the time of day.

     From the beginning, there is confusion.  We never really understand what it is Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) does for a living, but we know he is on his way to Hawaii in order to help oversee the dedication of a pedestrian gate?  When he arrives, one of the first people he sees on the tarmac, aside from his friend Colonel Lacy (a terribly miscast Danny McBride), is his long lost love, Tracy (Rachel McAdams), who he last saw some 13 years ago when their relationship abruptly ended.  Oddly enough, the military pilot who flies Brian to Hawaii, John (John Krasinski), is also now married to Tracy.  In one of the film’s first of many awkward situations, Tracy invites Brian to their home for dinner.  Something you can tell John isn’t comfortable with, and yet because of all the odd staring at one another, Brian and Tracy are perfectly good with it.

     Another character who immediately joins the fray is Captain Allison Ng (Emma Stone), an Air Force Officer assigned to Brian during his stay in Hawaii.  Why all of the military fanfare you ask?  Well apparently Brian is some sort of a military contractor, who previously was in the Air Force, now working for a billionaire named Carson Welch (Bill Murray).  Though the Air Force characters in the film seem to have no idea what’s going on, they are working in some capacity with Carson in order to get a new facility (for satellites maybe?) built in an area now occupied or controlled by native Hawaiians.  How and why Brian figures into to this will be a mystery even after the film is over and though the whole satellite sub plot figures greatly into the story, it all seems like an excuse to create scenes where Brian, Allison, and Tracy can interact for other reasons.

     Allison, as a character, is by far the most unrealistic just based on her actions alone.  She’s presented as this clean cut up and comer of whom her bosses see massive career potential.  Of course when she finds herself in the presence of the great Bradley Cooper, she melts completely out of her character as it is drawn and falls for him rather quickly. She justifies this by saying “This has never happened before!”, letting the audience know just how special she believes this two day old relationship really is!  Allison continues to make decisions throughout that make no sense, all the while continually pointing out her one quarter Hawaiian heritage and her knowledge of a number of ancient Hawaiian myths.  When the wind mysteriously blows through a door or window, she stops her conversation to point out what it means by citing ancient Hawaiian culture, but then we see her engaging in an odd dance with Bill Murray on the Officer’s Club dance floor in the next scene.  It becomes so difficult to get a gauge on both her emotions, as well as her intentions, that the character eventually becomes someone you realize is just there to further the story when it becomes convenient.  Certainly a major step down after Stone’s outstanding turn in last year’s Best Picture winner “Birdman”.

     Rachel McAdams has sort of mastered the cute and lovable housewife role in much the same way Jennifer Garner has.  When she sees Brian at the beginning of the film, you get the idea we will be spending the remainder of the story learning little by little why they broke up over a decade ago.  The question is, will you really care?  While there are a few notable revelations between the two, nothing comes as a surprise.  The only real problem with the situation is Brian  and the way he makes himself right at home with Tracy knowing her husband is in the next room.  For all of the back and forth between these characters, Crowe does actually explore something memorable when he stages a scene in which John walks through the kitchen door and has a completely non verbal exchange with Brian in the presence of Tracy.  As Brian explains afterward to Tracy, men can have an entire meaningful conversation just by the way they greet and look at one another. Isn’t that true though?  Body language can easily replace a thousand words. The scene also pays off later, which along with the gorgeous Hawaiian setting serve as the lone bright spots of an otherwise poorly executed outing for all involved. GRADE: D