“Jerry Maguire” writer/director Cameron Crowe returns to the genre that elevated him to stardom: the romantic dramedy. “Aloha” boasts one of the most impressive casts of the year, and isn’t nearly as emotionally manipulative as Crowe’s last film, 2011’s “We Bought a Zoo” with Matt Damon. But with a dialogue-heavy script that runs around in all-too-familiar circles, “Aloha” lacks the charm and authenticity of a great, summer silver screen romance.
Bradley Cooper leads the star-studded ensemble as Brian Gilcrest. He’s a military contractor who returns to Hawaii to complete a secret (and unnecessarily complicated) mission that involves launching a privately funded satellite into space. Gilcrest reunites with his old girlfriend Tracy (played by Rachel McAdams) in the same scene that he’s introduced to Air Force pilot Alison Ng (it’s pronounced like “ring” but without the “ri”). She’s been assigned to keep watch over Gilcrest over the five days as he takes care of business. Oh, and to probably fall in love with him, too. But maybe he’ll get back together with Tracy, who’s married with two kids, but isn’t really happy. It’s this triangle that’s at the heart of “Aloha”.
The first half hour or so is as messy as a luau in a hurricane, with confusing plot developments and several cringe-worthy moments, including Gilcrest secretly listening in on a private phone conversation and later howling like a wolf out his car window. And most the of early scenes involving Cooper, McAdams and Stone are clumsy and unconvincing. If “Aloha” had continued on this way I would have completely agreed with former Sony head Amy Pascal’s opinion of the film, which she called “ridiculous” in one of the numerous leaked emails that were part of the now-infamous hacking scandal.
But once Stone’s character is allowed to calm down and not be so manic, the scenes between her and Cooper begin to work and Crowe’s vision starts to come together. Going into a movie like this, you hope that there are those genuine moments around the beginning and ending of relationships. I bought into that aspect of “Aloha”, even the re-hashing of the past relationship between the Cooper and McAdams characters, which goes deeper than we originally think.
The supporting cast is a mixed bag. Heavyweights Bill Murray (who briefly shows off his dance moves) and Alec Baldwin are underused. And John Krasinski and Danny McBride are simply here to add a few more recognizable names to the poster. But the spiritual cultural elements do add some authenticity, and Crowe does have a few strong moments, most notably an effective final scene in which Cooper gets to show what a great actor he is.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Aloha” gets a C. Or, in other words, on a scale of 1-100, “Aloha” gets a Hawaii Five-0.
Running Time: 105 min.