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Aloha (2015)

It’d been far too long since I’d seen something on that big-screen that can only be experienced at the theater. This is why, on a whim, my mom and I decided to go see Aloha. (Well that, plus the fact that we both like Bradley Cooper.) What happened from that spur-of-the-moment decision was a fun little trip over the Pacific Ocean. 

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.) 
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  1. Thanks for the recommendation! This sounds like it's right up my alley.

    1. It's really cute, Heidi. Hope you enjoy it, whenever you have a chance to catch it. (I think it comes to DVD within the next month, actually. Definitely a short turnaround from theater to DVD.)

  2. Glad to hear a positive review of this movie. I love Emma Stone (just saw her in Birdman) but all I heard about this movie was the controversy over her character. When I was a foster care worker, one of my kids was a boy with blond hair and blue eyes and he was 1/4 African-American so think Emma's look is possible, genetically.

    1. I really liked it, Lis. But I know, I'm likely in the minority. Emma is one of the reasons the film piqued my interest and she does a fantastic job in the role - great humor, I thought. That's interesting. It's nice to hear your story, makes Emma's character seem, genetically, 100% possible! :)

  3. I'm glad you got out to see this one Rissi, and liked it so much! I don't have high expectations for it, but I do still want to see it, and it sounds like it'll definitely we worth the rental. It's gotta be worth it of only for Bradley and Emma, right? :D It's funny what people get upset over... if she's 1/4 it's not impossible that's she'd have blonde hair and green eyes... Anyway, great review!

    1. Thanks, Sarah. I'm likely in the minority in liking this one, but what can I say? I went in expecting some laughs, and that's what I got, so it didn't bother me to realize the movie was "different." I hope you enjoy it when you catch this one, Sarah - I'll be looking forward to your impressions. And I agree. I've not had any first hand knowledge about the possibility of Emma's character being a blonde with Hawaiian heritage, but it seems possible. :)

  4. Eeeek! I am so so happy you reviewed this one, Rissi!! I usually like movies that have been critic-bashed as well and I *especially* think I'd like this one, because Bradley Cooper. *wink* Thanks for this great review!

    1. Thanks, Bekah - I had it reviewed a while back, and finally got around to post it. *sigh* My bad. It comes to DVD in a couple of weeks, though, so I'll enjoy seeing it again and hope you do! Bradley is excellent in this, as always. Thank you for reading! :)

  5. I'll definitely have to watch this one. Great review!

    1. It's fun in an unconventional way, Tressa. Thanks for reading. :)

  6. Having grown up there, I agree with this reviewer who says "we all know quarter-Hawaiians that look like that" ( ) but I think what most people were upset about is that they had the chance to feature an ... I don't want to say a more ethnically diverse actress, but they can't say that out of all the actresses trying to make it in Hollywood, they couldn't have found a capable one that could more easily pass as a 1/4 Native Hawaiian.

    Regardless, I think they should have given her character a different last name. Unless it's explained in the film, Ng is an Chinese last name ... I think they should have given her a Caucasian last name (which would better fit with her "heritage" as part-Caucasian (which she looks completely) and part-Native Hawaiian).

    Don't get me wrong, I loved Emma Stone in Amazing Spider-Man also, but just wanted to give my perspective on it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the film! I don't normally seek out comedies today, since the content can be kind of ... sketchy, but while I wasn't originally planning to watch this film because of all the casting controversy, after reading your review, I'll probably give it a shot if my library gets a copy. =)

    1. I understand that. I would agree casting directors certainly could have cast a Hawaiian actress or someone who wasn't "fair," anyway. Makes sense to me. Perhaps they opted for the name recognition over anything. (As it turned out, the box office wasn't kind to this film anyway. :D)

      You know, I don't remember if anything was said about her last name or not. I'll have to pay attention next time I see this one.

      I'm glad you did share. It's fun to hear from someone who grew up there. If you do see this one, I hope you enjoy. It's quirky, but cute and that's the charm of it. :) Happy watching.


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