11 Jun 2015

Aloha - film review

From At The Movies, 7:31 pm on 11 June 2015

Directed by Cameron Crowe, starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAlpine.

Simon Morris reviews under-performing American comedy-drama Aloha, in which everyone seems to be having fun... except the audience.

Former Rolling Stone journalist Cameron Crowe has made a number of films that all share a certain baby boomer smugness – like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous. They assume we share Crowe’s love of the ‘golden age of rock’, middle-brow, vintage Hollywood movies, the Camelot of JFK and astronauts. And they all star surrogate Cameron Crowes who are loved for their endearing flaws.

Here it’s Brian Gilchrist (Bradley Cooper), an ex-Army hot-shot from Hawaii. He screwed up in some way, maybe something to do with taking bribes? But let’s not live in the past. Now he’s a contractor for a media billionaire, returning to Hawaii to get a satellite space station up and running… the actual story is a little vague. Gilchrist has to negotiate with a Hawaiian king for permission to use his land for some reason, and he’s given a United States Air Force Captain to help him out.

Before we get into how appropriate it is to cast Emma Stone as part native-Hawaiian, part Chinese Captain Allison Ng – short answer, not remotely appropriate – I was starting to struggle with why anyone was there.

Can’t the Air Force do its own negotiating? Why is the Air Force even involved in a private satellite launch? And why is everyone so keen on Brian Gilchrist?

Meanwhile, what passes for the plot of Aloha - alongside the love interests - American-Hawaiian cultural relations and the compromises involved when the Army gets into bed with private enterprise – rumbles away in the background.  

When Brian Gilchrist sabotages the best-laid plans of business and the military, for I’m sure the very best of reasons, I’d become so irritated with the lot of them that I’d long given up trying to make sense of Aloha.

The worst thing is that I usually like all the actors involved, and there may even have been some intelligent message buried under all the Cameron Crowe candy-floss. I can’t work out whether Crowe the writer short-changed Crowe the director, or if Crowe the director made a hash of Crowe’s script.

Either way, there’s no question whose fault it was.

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