WELL, THAT HAPPENED: ‘Aloha’ – The drunken review

By on June 2, 2015

Crowe’s latest falls short with farfetched storyline, weak motivations

Photo by Columbia Pictures

Photo by Columbia Pictures

It’s very possible that Cameron Crowe’s new film “Aloha” has an important message. Somewhere beneath its chewy, salty exterior there could be something resembling a touching redemption story. But, whatever that message was, it was lost on me. This is possibly due to the fact that I was drunk when I watched the film and still might be kind of drunk. Or, much like a can of Spam, “Aloha” is truly a contrived, compressed, overly processed hunk of meat made up of the ears, lips and assholes of emotion, devoid of anything resembling nutritious movie magic.

At some point Cameron Crowe (“Jerry McGuire,” “Almost Famous”) saw the 2013 film “Silver Linings Playbook,” starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and thought to himself, “Hey! I should write something like that.”

The plot to “Aloha” is so idiotic and convoluted that even Drunk Me couldn’t really figure out the basics. But I guess I’ll give it a shot. Spoiler alert?

Brian Gilcrest (Cooper) — a name that sounds like of one of those guys who waves to people from the “Good Morning America” float at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — is some military contractor dude who took bribes (?) from people in Afghanistan. He travels to Hawaii, escorting a dead body (?), because he’s working with Bill Murray, who is some private company bigwig who is helping fund a NASA satellite launch. Emma Stone is Captain Allison Ng (pronounced “like ring, but without the R or the I”), a U.S. Air Force pilot who volunteers to be Gilcrest’s watchdog, because he needs a babysitter or something. But when he gets there, he runs into his ex-girlfriend from 13 years ago (Rachel McAdams) who is now married to a mostly mute pilot named Woody (John Krasinski), but is kind of unhappy in her marriage. Anyway, she starts to guilt Gilcrest because he dumped her, but she still invites him over for dinner to meet her creepy 7-year-old son Mitch, who is always filming people, and her 12-year-old daughter Grace, who likes to hula dance.

150603WTH-2Then Gilcrest and Ng go into some off-the-grid village with no cell service to negotiate land rights. I think the military wants the sacred ancestral land, and the villagers are only willing to exchange it for two mountains and cell service. “NO DEAL,” shouts General Bad Attitude (Alec Baldwin, acting very Alec Baldwin-y), who is pissed at Gilcrest for doing bad stuff in Afghanistan.

Ng, who I guess used to be a dancer (like Jennifer Lawrence’s character in “Silver Linings Playbook”), is the only person who can bust Bradley Cooper out of his shell. But then we find out that Bill Murray is a nuclear arms dealer and he’s smuggling a nuke in the satellite, but the Chinese are like hacking it or something? And then Gilcrest has to stop them from hacking the nuke.

I’ll admit, I didn’t understand this movie. Normally, I’d blame it on the whiskey, but everyone in the theater kept whispering to each other to try to clarify what the hell was happening. “Aloha” is so calculated and unspontaneous that none of the characters or situations felt authentic. Emma Stone’s character constantly reminds us that she’s one-fourth Hawaiian, but mostly Swedish, and then we have to endure all this weird Hawaiian mythology about deities and legends. Crowe was probably sitting on the porch of his Oahu bungalow flipping though “A Guide to Folk Legends of Hawai’i,” and pointing at things saying, “Oooh, I like this!”

In one scene, Gilcrest and Ng run into a wandering group of ghost warriors (yep, real ghosts!) but can’t look at them directly or else they’ll be cursed. Seriously. Then the creepy camera kid keeps making weird allegories about Gilcrest being something called “The Arrival,” and then doors and windows keep flying open like in “Poltergeist” to represent some sort of divine intervention, I guess.

Look, I know that some people really like Cameron Crowe movies, with their forced quirkiness and yawn-worthy acoustic folk soundtracks, but it seems appropriate that “Aloha” had me at hello, but mostly at goodbye. (Clever, eh?)

Hollywood, please stop showing Cameron Crowe the money. 

About Andrew Munz

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