Aloha (Cameron Crowe, 2015)
Signs were never good for Cameron Crowe’s Aloha. When Sony’s emails were leaked last year it was revealed that co-chairman of Sony, Amy Pascal, had the following things to say about the film: the story makes “no sense”, “the script is ridiculous”, and “it never not even once ever works”.
But how could it go wrong?! Look at that cast! Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin – that’s some major star power right there. The cast are indeed the film’s saving grace, because this bunch can’t help but shine in anything they do. Unfortunately though, their efforts do bring to mind the image of a dying seal flapping about on the beach.
But it’s set ON A BEACH! Well, by now most will have heard about the backlash about casting pretty young white thang Emma Stone as Alison Ng, a character who is supposedly a quarter-Hawaiian and quarter-Chinese. Add to that the general whitewashing of Hawaii, which in reality has a population that is only 30% Caucasian. Cameron Crowe went so far as to apologise for these casting decisions (which is commendable given the plethora of non-apologies celebrities are prone to giving). But what’s done is done, and this only makes the film more awkward to watch.
It’s unclear what Aloha even wants to be. Is it a rom-com? Or was it just marketed that way in a desperate attempt to get viewers? I shouldn’t have been surprised by the sight of Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone getting their flirt on, but it comes out of absolutely nowhere. Crowe also throws in some magic/spiritual crap to confuse viewers further, and these moments feel grossly out of place.
The screenplay is the killer. The story just doesn’t make sense, and something that’s marketed as a rom-com really shouldn’t be that difficult to follow. And yet, I’m with Amy Pascal on this one. A plot point about a satellite made no sense whatsoever, and you have to wonder whether a good dose of material was cut because there appears to be a great deal of information missing. While I’m not a major fan of Cameron Crowe’s golden babies Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire, I definitely expected better than this mess.
The dialogue is deplorable. While there are a few nice moments scattered throughout the film, for the most part the script is just painful, and has the characters speaking in ways that real human beings just wouldn’t. There’s also a running joke about how Woody (John Krasinski) doesn’t talk, resulting in one of the dumbest scenes I’ve seen in a movie in some time. One that makes three-time Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper look like an absolute chump.
Alec Baldwin gets the best chance to shine in an albeit small role, and B-Coop, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams get to flash their beautiful smiles amidst a gorgeous Hawaiian backdrop. But that’s really all that can be said in Aloha’s favour. ‘Aloha’ can mean both hello and goodbye, which you’d imagine could be confusing. In the case of this film then, it seems an appropriate title.