Aloha, written and directed by Cameron Crowe, faced a lot of backlash when it was released in theaters for the casting of Emma Stone as a part-Asian woman. The criticism was justified, as there is no explanation in the film for her Asian name and red haired, Caucasian appearance. However, moving past that, the film was much better than I expected, which is to say it was adequate.
Bradley Cooper plays Brian Gilcrest, a man who was in the military but now works for a private contractor (Bill Murray), which is what brings him back to Hawaii. When he exits the plane, we meet Allison Ng (Emma Stone) and Tracy Woodside (Rachel McAdams), establishing the love triangle right off the bat. For those who have seen many of Crowe’s films, this one doesn’t depart from his usual collection of plots.
Tracy is Brian’s ex-girlfriend, and since their break-up, she has married Woody (John Krasinski), another military man with very little to say. It’s a plot device/joke throughout the film that Woody is not very communicative. Krasinski definitely didn’t have trouble remembering his lines.
Tracy and Woody are having relationship problems, introducing the opportunity for a possible reconciliation between Rachel and Brian. Simultaneously, Brian and Allison go to speak to the native Hawaiian people about an issue that was mainly a plot device that I’ve already forgotten. The bottom line is that the natives want their land, which includes the sky, to be respected, and the military wants to put a satellite in the sky above the island. Brian is working for the military contractors building the satellite and Allison is vehemently against it.
The film follows Brian back and forth between meeting with Tracy about relationship issues and getting to know Allison as they work together. After a party, Brian and Allison end up sleeping together, but that relationship lasts for about five minutes before Allison finds out that Brian knew about the satellite, and then there are a few twists to the story before it resolves exactly as you think it will.
The film is adequate in every way, with the possible exception of the beautiful Hawaiian scenery. The acting is adequate (even with two Academy Award nominated actors), the writing is adequate in that it is entertaining if you’re looking for a film to watch, but not memorable or great. The female characters are not particularly developed, but neither are the male characters. Emma Stone is the best part of an entirely adequate film.
If it’s on television or Netflix, Aloha is worth a watch as a diversion, though that is really all. Otherwise, check out one of Crowe’s other, better films.