Cameron Crowe has made so very good movies. I loved "Almost Famous" and I firmly believe that everyone should see that once before they die. "Jerry McGuire" is screen gold, and features one of the best overall Tom Cruise performances. "Vanilla Sky" was a great mind-bender in a year rich with mind-benders and also features one of the best overall Tom Cruse performances. I also have to say with pride that "We Bought A Zoo" may just be one of the biggest surprises of the last five years. So make no mistake when I saw that Crow is no slouch. The guy has been pushing great product for many years now.
But like many great artists, sometimes something gets away from him. "Aloha" is something that got away from him. Don't let the bright cast of Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray, Danny McBride or John Krasinski fool you. There is nothing special about this movie. "Aloha" is a movie that goes way out of its way to be cute and sentimental. It earns none of the big emotional beats it tries to display. Plus, as a story, its completely confused by what its supposed to be about.
First of all, "Aloha" completely wastes its location. I have never been to Hawaii before, but I know several people who have. I can believe the hype of beauty that location generates, but the location is completely wasted in this movie. The location is just a clever backdrop for an otherwise ordinary movie. This movie could have taken place anywhere in the world, they are just trying to draw you in with an exotic location, so please don't be fooled. There is nothing in the movie that really ties into the location. Yes, the movie tries, but it fails miserably.
Second of all, "Aloha" really makes no sense. We get Bradley Cooper plays a disgraced military contractor. He is trying to sell something that will benefit the military, a billionaire and the commonwealth of Hawaii. We get that Emma Stone plays a guide hired to keep an eye on Cooper. We also get a subplot about Cooper running into an old flame in the form of Rachel McAdams. There is this big deal near the end of the movie that ties into Cooper and McAdams' past, but it feels like too little too late and doesn't correlate with the rest of the movie. For about twenty or so minutes, "Aloha" feels like a completely different movie. And for what purpose? To merely shoehorn in McAdams subplot? To give McAdams something to do? As well as Krasinski who plays McAdams new husband? To give the "characters" more depth? What is the point of any of this?
Third of all, somebody needs to re-watch "Superbad," "Easy A," and "The Help" and absorb what makes Stone so wonderful in the first place. There seems to be a norm forming that if filmmakers just cast Emma Stone, everything will be okay, acting as if it doesn't matter if she's playing a character or not. Does Hollywood really not think the regular moviegoer won't be able to see through that? Recently, Emma Stone is nothing but empty charm. If I don't believe in someone's character, all the charm in the world won't get me to buy into the character. Somebody needs to inform filmmakers that Stone can't coast on charm alone. I know she tries to make everything she does in this movie work, but it doesn't work because she has no character to play.
As for the rest of the cast, they are in the same boat as Stone, they have absolutely nobody to play. I have never been bored by Bill Murray in my life, and now I can cross that off my bucket list. Krasinski is dull simply because his character is so dumb. Cooper does what he can to make this count, but he ends up slipping in the end. Alec Baldwin appears, gets angry in a couple scenes and then departs. McBride plays an actual nearly-normal person, and he ends up wooden as a tree. I have seen big casts fail onscreen before, but this one moment stung particularly hard.
I'd call "Aloha" one of the worst films of the year. The only thing is, I have a feeling that I will forget by the end of the week. I may even forget about it by the time I go to sleep. If I forget about it too much, I may not remember it by the time I go to make that list at the end of the year. I don't know if that makes worse or better in any form or not.
FINAL GRADE: D-