Aloha Blu-ray Review
If you had asked me to pick a director for a movie about a man trying to recover from an epic career failure that returns home to reconnect with an old flame and start something with a new one, I would have quickly chosen Cameron Crowe. After all, that’s basically the niche that Crowe has carved for himself with movies like JERRY MAGUIRE, ELIZABETHTOWN and WE BOUGHT A ZOO. But he fails so miserably with ALOHA that the film has no signs of Crowe anywhere; the dialogue is terrible, the directing is poor, the plot is convoluted and the musical choices are uninspired. And keep in mind that to this day, I passionately defend ELIZABETHTOWN and WE BOUGHT A ZOO, both of which have been panned by other critics, but there’s just no defending ALOHA.
Bradley Cooper is Brian Gilcrest, a military contractor that’s now working for Carson (Bill Murray) and is in Hawaii to oversee a satellite launch with the Air Force. Allison Ng (Stone) is his military liaison, assigned to keep an eye on him and to make sure everything goes smoothly for the military. But truth be told, she serves no purpose other than to annoy the audience and provide someone for Brian to sleep with. Hawaii was home for Gilcrest and while there, he reconnects with his old girlfriend, Tracy (McAdams), who is now married to Woody (John Krasinski).
The first thing that jumps out about ALOHA is the nonsensical plot and the poorly developed characters. Crowe overly complicated this simple film by involving the military, satellites, Hawaiian superstition and a love triangle all in one 100 minute film. Adding the military into this was a huge mistake, since Crowe clearly doesn’t know anything about the military and his military liaison should be fired. It seems military personnel don’t have to wear hats or salute in Hawaii and the O-club seemingly has no rules. And while these may seem like trivial observations, they reduce the credibility of the film and give it an amateurish quality that a seasoned filmmaker shouldn’t have. Also, what does Brian actually do and what did he do? It seems his skill set matches whatever the plot calls for at any given time. And while Emma Stone got grief for playing a part Asian character, that was the least of her problems. In the beginning of the film, she was incredibly obnoxious and overly eager, but that didn’t stop her from hitting on Brian at every turn, which not only felt out of place, but was completely out of character.
Crowe made another mistake when he started weaving in traditional Hawaiian myths. They were inconsistent and while a hint of a supernatural element could work, Crowe was all over the place with his use of the myths. It felt like Crowe stumbled upon a book of myths and thought it would be cool to add them into his film, but they were just a distraction and never lead anywhere.
Putting the plot aside, the dialogue was cringe-worthy and at times, made zero sense. There was also the problem of the actors delivering lines that didn’t match their emotions. For example, Cooper acted frustrated and fed-up with Ng during a scene on a mountain, but his words didn’t match that emotion. Or Ng was crying at a breakfast table, but her words didn’t fit with someone that was distraught. Normally, I would trash the actors for not understanding their lines, but this happened constantly throughout ALOHA and Cooper, Stone, McAdams and Alec Baldwin have all proven they can act with the best of them, so the blame here goes squarely on Cameron Crowe. It’s as if he didn’t understand his own script.
Finally, there’s the ending. Things blow up and everything is in disarray, then Crowe cuts and instantly everything is okay again. There’s no logic for how we got there or why we ended up with a Hollywood ending. If that’s the ending Crowe wanted, then why did he blow everything up so much towards the end? ALOHA is the kind of movie that needed a happy ending, but it also needed some logic, which was sorely missing.
ALOHA was painful. Not only to watch, but to have to admit how bad it is. I really thought this would be another ELIZABETHTOWN, where everyone said it was bad, but I’d still like it. But this time, it’s just bad. I couldn’t find any redeeming qualities and even the beautiful Hawaiian setting was never really used. I would strongly advise that even the most ardent Cameron Crowe fans should stay away from ALOHA or risk disillusioning yourself of Crowe’s greatness.
Video: Although Crowe didn’t take advantage of the lush setting, what we did see looks beautiful on Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio was fine.
Commentary with Cameron Crowe: I was excited for this since the movie was so universally panned and it was such a departure in quality for Crowe, but he gives a commentary like there’s nothing wrong with it. There are times where is commentary actually doesn’t make much sense. I’m not sure if he wasn’t allowed to address some of the issues or if he just chose not to, but this commentary was severely lacking.
The Untitled Hawaii Project: The Making of Aloha Documentary (1:14:06): This is broken up into three parts and is an exhaustive documentary chronicling the making of the film. But again, it feels like fluff. To bring it back to Crowe, it feels like when a band hires a writer to write a fluff piece to make them seem cooler or better than they are.
Original Opening and Alternate Ending (19:07 and 4:20): There is no magical fix with these two additions. The opening and ending weren’t the main problems in the film.
The Awe of Space (2:52): Crowe talks about exploring space. Because that’s what you want in a movie about Hawaii.
Ledward Kaapana: Music is Everything (14:41): Kaapana talks about music.
Uncle Bumpy (5:52): The real Head of State for the Nation of Hawaii talks about his real life experiences dealing with the US government.
Mitchell’s Film (2:03): This is actual footage that the kid in the movie shot on set.
Gag Reel (6:25): Typical gag reel
Deleted Scenes (11:28): Again, these two scenes wouldn’t have saved the film.
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