Friday, June 12, 2015

Movie Review - Aloha

Aloha (2015)
Starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Jaeden Lieberher, Danielle Rose Russell, Danny McBride, and Alec Baldwin
Directed by Cameron Crowe

There are moments of clever wordplay in director-screenwriter Cameron Crowe's Aloha that pinpoint that this lauded filmmaker (by others, not myself) has an ear for dialog that evokes a sense of spontaneity and naturalness while still feeling somewhat elegant and eloquent.  However, these small moments aren't enough to make a film work or carry a story and Aloha is a near disaster in the story department.  An hour into the film I found myself pondering what in the hell is the main storyline here?  The flick was a jumbled mess until that point and, quite frankly, doesn't get much better in its second half.

In the end, I think Aloha is trying to tell the tale of a beginning and an ending (how clever in that "aloha" can mean "hello" or "goodbye") when it comes to relationships for its main character Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper), a hired defense worker who is employed by the filthy rich Carson Welch (Bill Murray) to do computer work (I think?) on Welch's new space communications satellite launching off the coast of Hawaii in the near future.  Hawaii used to be Brian's home and while living there, he was in a serious relationship with Tracy (Rachel McAdams) who is now married to Air Force pilot Woody (John Krasinki) with whom she has two kids.  Brian's return to the 49th State creates a bit of havoc in Tracy and Woody's relationship with long buried feelings resurfacing between the former couple.  Also thrown into the mix:  pilot Allison Ng (Emma Stone) who is tasked with escorting Brian around the island and begins to fall for him;  Tracy and Woody's son Mitchell (Jaeden Lieberher) believes that Brian's arrival signifies the beginning of some Hawaiian lore that will cause volcanic eruptions and new islands to form; and, just for kicks, Tracy and Woody's daughter Grace (Danielle Rose Russell) may or may not be Brian's biological daughter.

While another film may be able to balance all these storylines, Aloha is unable and proves to be a painful experiment to watch.  As mentioned, sixty minutes in, I had no clue what was supposed to be the "big" storyline here.  I figured it would be the love triangle between Brian, Rachel, and Allison, and while that proves ultimately to be true, this segment is so poorly laid out and structured in the film's opening hour that it's impossible to feel any connection to these characters or have any desire to see this plot point reach its conclusion.  Instead of honing in on this three-cornered relationship, much of the film's beginning is focused on Brian attempting to convince native Hawaiians to allow Carson Welch to build a bridge through their land along with a huge emphasis on "mystical" and "mysterious" ancient Hawaiian folklore.  And the kicker -- neither of these two concepts make much of an appearance in the film's second half.  Throw in some incredibly weird, purportedly comedic moments that just stick out like a sore thumb (or an extra toe which literally makes an appearance here) and Mr. Crowe's script just proves to be laughably bad.

Given the mediocrity of the script, the typically solid cast isn't given a lot to work with and they find themselves floundering for motivation.  McAdams and Krasinski fare the best, but their characters are supposed to be incredibly unhappy with one another and this never comes across despite the actors' best efforts.  The typically charming Cooper is all over the place in a role that never determines whether it's supposed to be comedic or dramatic or a mix of both.  The equally typically charming Stone is like a cartoon character, never once feeling real or based in reality.  Aloha is a huge miss and one that I couldn't wait to say "good-bye" to nearly as soon as I had said "hello."

The RyMickey Rating:  D

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