The badness of the star-studded flop “Aloha” is made painful by the fact that Cameron Crowe, director of so many beloved movies, is responsible for it. Crowe created classics like “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Singles” and “Almost Famous,” but despite the fact many likable actors made a movie in a beautiful place, this was one of the least coherent mainstream films I have ever seen.
The film begins with a voice-over from star Bradley Cooper, telling us a highly truncated story about his military career and how he became a disenchanted defense contractor headed to Hawaii to launch a mysterious project.
Unfortunately this information is all really important, but explained to us before we even lay eyes on anyone, making it impossible to care about the character or the hastily explained details of his life. This is the exact problem of the entire film.
Cooper’s character is the romantic lead, the hero, and he’s totally incoherent. I think the pivotal moment of the film involves him having a crisis of conscience, but it wasn’t clear whether he was a rogue before, or what. But worst of all was woeful Emma Stone, miscast as a native Hawaiian, a part Chinese Air Force pilot who, in addition to the racial madness we’re supposed to believe, is also a strident goody two shoes. Or sometimes she is, to an unintentionally comic degree, and then, just as often, she isn’t.
The scenes between Cooper and Stone, which are supposed to be laying the groundwork for a totally predictable yet unlikely romance, are wholly inexplicable. Perhaps this movie had gigantic chunks re-written or omitted. Their characters are ill-defined, behaving randomly from one line to the next. I think their romance was supposed to represent them overcoming some character flaws, but these were almost impossible to pin down.
I can get over a stupid plot, but you would think Cameron Crowe could create better characters than this in his sleep. Maybe that’s what happened. Rachel McAdams comes out better as Cooper’s ex-girlfriend, harboring a secret that’s pretty obvious, and gives the film its only remotely effective emotional moments.
Basically you could care about two things in “Aloha,” either the personal story lines or the plot — where it’s either a good or a bad thing for billionaire Bill Murray to launch a satellite from Hawaii. You have to endure characters opining about the sanctity of the skies, and some nonsensical military stuff. None of this is explained clearly or presented meaningfully, ever, but it’s the failure to delineate any characters that really ruins the story. The only compelling question this story raises is how can so many talented people come together to create something so inexplicable, frustrating and bad.