Aloha (20th Century Fox Film Corporation, PG-13)

Aloha 75The glimmer of hope in the film is likely enough to make me forget how bad this movie was by the time Crowe’s next film rolls around.

 

 

 

 

Aloha 500

Cameron Crowe is one of those filmmakers who, on account of successes earlier in his career (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Say Anything…, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous), I’m too willing to forgive of current monstrosities, and I still look forward to his movies whenever they come out. Maybe one day I’ll learn.

The most recent of these monstrosities is Aloha, which in tone bears a striking similarity to what is probably his least-successful film, 2005’s Elizabethtown. Crowe aside, it’s reasonable to get excited on account of its cast: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, etc. But then, as witnessed in stuff like Elizabethtown and Vanilla Sky, Crowe has a strange ability to sometimes pull poor performances out of good actors, so maybe the cast isn’t something to be excited about after all.

Our lead is Brian Gilcrest (Cooper), a disgraced and once thought to be dead military contractor who goes to Hawaii to help millionaire Carson Welch (Murray) do some shady dealings. In Hawaii he meets up with his ex, and presumed love of his life, Tracy (McAdams), who is now married to a dude who goes by the name of Woody (John Krasinski), who many jokes are made regarding his being the strong but silent type. All the while, most of Gilcrest’s actions are shadowed by an Air Force official who is assigned to him, Allison Ng (Stone), who was perhaps named after the They Might Be Giants song “Ana Ng.” (The lyrics seem somewhat relevant: “I don’t want the world, I just want your half.”) Ng is modeled on the Anna-Kendrick-in-UpintheAir type; she’s a strong and chilly businesswoman, who experiences the eventual thaw in demeanor.

I have maintained for years, and still think, that Bradley Cooper is not a very good actor, and only does well when David O. Russell is the one directing him; Aloha is further evidence that I am right. But, it doesn’t prove my point that Crowe is weirdly capable of getting bad performances out of good actors. That work is done here by Stone, who has never been less believable, and Danny McBride, who is a less-prominent member of the Air Force with whom Gilcrest has to deal. Krasinski fares better, and Murray holds up just fine, but do I ever not like him?

The best scene in the movie is a dance scene between Stone and Murray, which has some of the charm of the old Crowe who I still like so much. And there is an undercurrent in Aloha that it could have been made into a good movie—sometimes individual scenes work and some of its themes are interesting, but on the whole the movie’s just a mess. Still, the glimmer of hope in the film is likely enough to make me forget how bad this movie was by the time Crowe’s next film rolls around. | Pete Timmermann

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