Let’s have a luau and burn every copy of “Aloha” with tiki torches.
Movie Review #974
Currently, “Aloha” is playing on over 2,000 screens. Movie theater screens, to be certain. Why it wasn’t aired as a television movie, I’m not so sure. “Aloha” is, for the most part, one giant-ass soap opera. Except where “Aloha” differs from a soap opera is that it’s dumber, it’s cheesier, and it’s bloated from a fair length of forty-five minutes, to the intolerable drudgery of two hours. It doesn’t intend to elicit any philosophical reaction from its audience (much less anything emotional or psychological), but at a certain point, we become so fed up with the story that we begin to question our very existence.
We meet Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper), a contractor as of 2008, when he left the military to work for a billionaire (Bill Murray) so that he didn’t fall victim to the Great Recession. He’s on a mission to launch some space shuttle, which makes the last thirty minutes of “Aloha” feel like a watered-down version of “Interstellar”. Which is weird, because it washes away the little romantic factor that this movie did have. The problem Brian faces in “Aloha” is in choosing between two women. One is his ex-wife (Rachel McAdams), the other is a Hawaiian military captain (Emma Stone).
Now let me give a little backstory. Brian has two kids with his ex-wife, one of whom (Jaeden Lieberher) is a pain in the ass who does nothing but videotape people and ask them about some ancient Hawaiian god. His ex-wife is married to another man, who ends up going completely silent when Brian comes to town. The silent “conversations” between Brian and his ex-wife’s husband are detailed in subtitles near the end of the movie, which sounds humorous, but it actually makes for a very awkward couple of scenes. Also, Brian is an asshole to pretty much everybody in “Aloha”, but not to his wife. As for the military captain, Brian has just met her. He doesn’t really get to know her at all, either.
Despite the prevailing logic, it’s clear from the beginning that he won’t end up with his ex-wife, which is yet another reason “Aloha” is just a pile of bad ideas. Bradley Cooper’s chemistry with Emma Stone feels virtually nonexistent. He’s flat and boring to watch. She’s awkward, obnoxious, and a little uncomfortable to watch. That’s not exactly a functional pair, nor is it one that makes for easy viewing.
Emma Stone’s performance in this movie proves grossly inferior any one of her previous appearances on film. Her performance isn’t the kind that seems to silently attract Razzies, but rather the kind that gets on its knees and begs for Razzies. I don’t generally have a problem with “whitewashing” in Hollywood, as it’s been going on for decades. But I do have a problem with Emma Stone playing a quarter-Chinese, quarter-Hawaiian woman. I’m just not sure there’s many Chinese-Hawaiians out there who are whiter than sour cream, which Emma Stone certainly is.
That’s purely the fault of Cameron Crowe, though, as he apparently cast Stone into the role. Emma Stone delivers as if she’s just had five cups of coffee and is jittering for a few more. Sony has done us a “favor” of putting the first eight minutes on YouTube for free, perhaps in an effort to see if we can last that long. You get a small taste of how abominable Stone’s delivery is in that short amount of time, but not nearly as much as the rest of the movie gives you. Stone constantly mentions that she’s a quarter Chinese, a quarter Hawaiian, and it grows increasingly obnoxious with each instance. The rest of her dialogue is thankfully less redundant, but her delivery is uniformly cringe-inducing. It gives Bradley Cooper’s utterly boring performance a run for its money.
The fact that such a simple movie has been in the works since 2008 seems to say something about it. “Aloha” feels like it was in its first draft when it went into production, though this can’t be: Cameron Crowe rewrote his original script after Tom Cruise and Reese Witherspoon left the project in 2012. If you really need to know why they left, then go ahead and watch the movie.