For Brian Gilcrest (Cooper), life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. Once part of the military ranks, Brian retired from his duties in order to become a private military contractor. That proved to be a promising career, cut short when he suffered an injury that nearly killed him. Now suffering from nothing worse than a lingering limp, Brian returns to Hawaii for his final chance at redemption and possibly a return to his career in the private sector. While there he reconnects with his old girlfriend, Tracy (Rachel McAdams). Tracy is now married with a family of her own, but she’s held onto secrets for years, and now she needs to tell someone. Then there is Alison Ng (Emma Stone), a promising young military pilot assigned to be Brian’s liaison during the negotiations with the Hawaiian people. Between all of the complications that arise and facing his past, Brian discovers that more than his career may be on the line…
Director (and writer) Cameron Crowe is well known for his movies, Jerry McGuire and later, Almost Famous. I’ve not seen either of them but do enjoy his more recent directorial effort, We Bought a Zoo. When I saw the trailer for this, I thought it looked like a decent little movie that, if not award-winning, would be entertaining at the least. That is exactly what Aloha is. Maybe it’s because I love the cast or perhaps it’s the setting, whatever the case, the whimsical nature of this film worked really well and I can say this will be something I’ll rewatch. Especially if I’m looking for something that doesn’t fit into the traditional box labeled with a specific genre.
This film was pretty much excoriated by critics across the board and recently encountered some criticism because of Emma Stone’s character. She's ¼ Hawaiian (which is a running joke in the script). Outrage surfaced that a blonde-haired actress was cast versus’ someone believable to have some Hawaiian heritage. Honestly, it didn’t bother me in the least. But then I went into this expecting nothing but a good time and that’s what I walked out having experienced. The scenery is naturally gorgeous and the camera does a beautiful job showcasing it as does the story, which is very complimentary (in my opinion) of the Hawaiian Islands. I loved the natural beauty shots and the places we go because of that.
This leads me to the cast, who I thought were all great. Emma Stone has been a favorite ever since seeing her in the re-booted Spider-Man movies and of course, I’ve liked Rachel McAdams for a while now. Both ladies were fantastic and I especially thought Emma’s scene with Bradley (nearer the end) was fantastic. Then there is Bradley Cooper. He too is a great asset to the movie and can do comedic as well as he can do serious – something I suspect he will be in more high demand for given the success of his role in American Sniper. Also a fun edition to the cast is John Karanski. His character is hilarious in an unexpected kind of way. The script does some unique things and because of this, the movie won’t be for everyone. There are some interesting moments of silences and funny subtitled conversations (seriously, it is amusing) that do flow nicely with the movie because of the set up.
If there is a flaw, it’s the camera work. Occasionally the staging or angles feel a bit odd – sometimes the camera jerks around to help portray the view through a character’s eyes, yet for the most part its smooth sailing. When it comes right down to it, I really liked this film. The laughs are frequent and though it’s more comedy than romance, it’s a darn entertaining movie. Brian learns valuable lessons and “grows up” in ways he might not have recognized. By confronting his past and learning from someone new in his life, he discovered there was a choice to choose what was right instead of what was going to earn him success. The ending isn’t the most traditional either, but for me, it was somehow the right ending and really beautiful in its emotional pull. Those of you looking for something different than the traditional summer box office film might enjoy this breath of fresh air. It was worth the ticket price.
(Content: there is one f-word and a few other scattered profanities. One couple is seen in bed together, covered by the blankets as they talk. There may be a few other suggestive innuendos. The film is rated PG13.)