Director Cameron Crowe hasn’t exactly been at the top of his game in recent years, with mediocre films such as We Bought A Zoo and Elizabethtown the most recent to hit the chopping block. But in his earlier years, he did churn out some greats; much loved titles like Jerry MacGuire, Say Anything and Almost Famous were all directed by Crowe, and are regarded as some of the best rom-coms around. So, where does his latest film, Aloha, fit in? With a wealth of A-list actors including the likes of Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin, as well as an attractive Hawaiian setting, you’d think this would be Crowe’s chance to redeem himself, right?
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in this tale of unexpected romance between military contractor, Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper), and the Air Force fighter pilot, Allison Ng (Emma Stone), assigned to watch him after Brian arrives in Hawaii on a secretive mission for wealthy communications mogul, Carson Welch (Bill Murray). But things only get complicated when his ex, Tracy (Rachel McAdams) comes back into the picture with her new husband, Woody (John Krasinski) in tow. I would love to tell you a little bit more about the plot, but honestly it was so convoluted from the start that I couldn’t explain it if I tried. I didn’t even understand it myself, and as the film progressed, this rom-com turned a little bit more sci-fi than I ever expected it to become. This film was torn between two genres from the beginning, and the two never really married up to form one coherent story-line.
But this film had other problems from the get go, namely the characters who were even more perplexing than the jumbled plot. These characters were as two-dimensional as they come, with zero basis in reality – and not in an ironic way, or even on purpose. They were cardboard cut-outs of characters, coloured in to give the appearance of depth, but still just as flat and un-human. Sure, they may have looked real, but nothing in the way these characters acted felt natural, and it’s near impossible to find a connection as an audience to people you can’t relate to in the slightest. Emma Stone and Bradley Cooper did the best they could to deliver their trite and sickly-sentimental dialogue, but it’s neither of their finest work, and I am still confused as to why so many talented actors jumped on board this bandwagon.
I wish I could piece together some more praise for this film, but beyond the alluring tropical location – which we barely catch a glimpse of – and the few times I did manage to squeeze out a laugh, there isn’t much I can say. In a time where the success of so many films hinges on how gritty and true-to-life they can be while still providing a sense of escapism, Aloha is just too polished to work. I spent far too much of the film doubting what was going on to find much enjoyment from it, and I’m sorry, but that last scene? No. Just, no. Unfortunately, for Cameron Crowe it’s back to the drawing board.