WARNING: I’m including my live tweets of this film (the film was empty, so I could), which includes moderate, albeit edited out PG-13 level language.
I didn’t there was going to be another film worse than “Hot Pursuit” this year, but here we are…
Cameron Crowe isn’t a hack director like Michael Bay, Uwe Boll or Dennis Dugan, he’s actually established himself as a fairly good director in the past with films like “Jerry Maguire” and “Almost Famous.” While his recent work hasn’t been as consistent, he’s still not a bad director, so what happened here? Why is his new film, with such a good cast, “Aloha,” so bad? I’m not talking just disappointing or underwhelming, I’m prepared to call it the worst film of 2015 so far.
So how does a film with such a decent trailer fail so badly? Let’s start with the plot, there really wasn’t much of one at all, to the point that I can’t really explain it all that well, but I’ll try my best. Bradley Cooper plays Brian Gilcrest, a military contractor who returns to Hawaii for a second chance after messing up a previous job in Afghanistan. During this time, he reconnects with an old love (Rachel McAdams) and begins to fall for his quirky military liaison (Emma Stone). Along with Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, Danny McBride and John Krasinski, a cast of this caliber should have at least some gravitas to it, but here, it’s as weightless as my love for this film.
The plot for this film beyond this initial synopsis is borderline unintelligible. The plot not only is glacial, but the film takes no time to explain much of anything as the film goes on, leaving the audience to fend for themselves with the plot, which in a normal film, wouldn’t be an issue. In a film as unbearably self-congratulating as this one, it’s hard to engage yourself in a plot this asinine and pretentious. The screenplay penned by Crowe himself is so self-indulgent that it greatly resembles myself walking into a Best Buy on payday. Spoiler alert: it’s borderline unbearable.
Crowe’s direction of the film is ugly, plain and simple, especially for a film that takes place in Hawaii, a place known for its incredible beauty. It’s possible to make a successful drama film set in Hawaii and still take in its beauty (see Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants”) The settings in this film are confined to unattractive, old buildings and plain military facilities, place that on top of the shoddy and inconsistent editing and amateur visual effects you have a film just as unattractive as it is pretentious.
“Aloha” has garnered controversy from social justice groups for presenting a “whitewashed” story of Hawaii and an insensitive portrayal of the native Hawaiians as insensitive and borderline racist. While a film revolving around a primarily white cast doesn’t constitute as racism, the way in which Crowe’s script treats Native Hawaiians and the negotiations of land between them and the U.S. Air Force comes across in a very insensitive manner, which becomes very unsettling as the film goes on, especially since the plot of “Aloha” doesn’t concern itself much with anything regarding Native Hawaiians except for the process of acquiring their land that they own for themselves. It attempts to concern itself with the culture for about 30 seconds, but this scene is marred by the obligatory foreshadowing to romance the film falls into, overtaking the scene.
The film wouldn’t be as egregious as it is if the actors didn’t seem so disinterested in the film. Emma Stone is one of the best young actresses of our generation and with each scene she seems even more indifferent about the film. Perhaps the nonexistent plot in the screenplay somehow called for her character to lose her energy with the progression of the film, but perhaps, maybe she just realized what she was doing with her career about halfway through, and I pray this wonderful actress tries something better next time around. Bradley Cooper’s indifference doesn’t come as much as a shock from his recent performance in the mess that was “Serena,” but it’s still depressing to see actors like Cooper, or McAdams, Baldwin, McBride and Krasinski seem so bored about their career in a film so incredibly boring.
The worst part about “Aloha” is that I’m actually shocked that it was as bad as it was. While I didn’t expect the film to be an Oscar-winner, I at least expected a decent time at the movies with a good amount of craft and humor involved from the cast and technical crew, but I didn’t expect this. The film plays like a pretentious student film from the University of Hawaii, but sometimes I felt as if a film student could be more in touch with humanity than Crowe was with “Aloha” and perhaps know its audience better too.
If you can’t tell already, I hated “Aloha,” which is somewhat surprising to me. I saw this film as possibly being mediocre, but I didn’t expect the film to be this self-indulgent, artless and boring.In no way can I recommend this film, even if you like the cast or are a fan of Crowe’s past work, it probably would do you best to avoid “Aloha” altogether, as to not ruin your love for any of these people. The film has a glacial pace, without engaging material to provide any sort of payoff in the final act of the film. The screenplay for the film is pretentious and downright confusing in some scenes, making no sense in its attempt to be clever. This film in no way is worthy of your time, whether it be in the theatre, on Blu-ray, Redbox, Netflix or basic cable. I wish I could write more, but I’m honestly exasperated from this film at this point.
Directed by: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin.
Runtime: 105 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments
Columbia Pictures and Regency Enterprises present, in association with LStar Capital and RatPac Entertainment, a Scott Rudin/Vinyl Films production, a Cameron Crowe film, “Aloha”