Aloha Review
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There once was a time when Cameron Crowe was the king of romantic dramedies, writing and directing everything from Say Anything... to his Oscar winner, Almost Famous (with Jerry Maguire and Singles in between). But while his latest romance, Aloha, still has just a hint of Crowe’s classic charm, it’s a rather murky reproduction.

Aloha stars Bradley Cooper as Brian Gilcrest, a military contractor who’s eager to return to the U.S. Air Force base in Honolulu and reconnect with old friends. Once there, he reunites with his ex-girlfriend, Tracy (Rachel McAdams)—now a military wife who’s raising two kids with a husband (John Krasinski) who avoids opening up to her about his life, his work, or his feelings. And as Brian works to negotiate a deal with the Hawaiian people to benefit both the military and his billionaire boss, he finds his beliefs tested by his enthusiastic military liaison (Emma Stone).

  
 
Aloha is a difficult movie to explain—because the story is rather aimless and unfocused. It takes a while to settle in—to get to know the characters, their histories, and their motives. And even after the story is (somewhat) set up, the plot still doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense.

In the same way, even after the film introduces the characters, they still feel indistinct and disconnected. Brian is clearly a man who’s lost his way—who’s in need of some kind of redemption. But the character’s history is uncertain—and even Cooper seems unsure of how to handle it. Is he supposed to be tough and cynical, damaged and distant, or just a lovable scamp? It seems to change from scene to scene. Stone, too, seems unsure of her character—whether she’s supposed to be awkward and intense or sweet and down-to-earth. Eventually, she becomes an endearing (and adorably nerdy) character—but only after she gets through a strange, wooden phase.

Meanwhile, though there’s supposed to be both tension and chemistry between Brian and Tracy, none of that really comes through in their scenes together. Even after the truth about their troubled relationship comes out, they still feel more like old friends who simply drifted apart and went their separate ways. And considering that the film seems to place much of its weight on the characters and their relationships, they feel surprisingly light and flimsy.

Aloha may boast a talented cast, a beloved filmmaker, and some interesting ideas, but the ideas never really solidify—and the result is a vague and hazy romance. So if you’re looking for a lovable romantic dramedy, it’s best to rewatch Say Anything... instead.


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