Aloha: Another Beach Movie without the Beach

film poster for Aloha
I loved the trailers for Cameron Crowe’s Aloha and I bought a ticket based on what I believed is a great cast. The tropical setting of Hawaii, military romances, and characters with ulterior motives are a romantic mix for this comic melodrama. Bradley Cooper plays a military contractor who returns to Honolulu for work, but he finds himself caught between a former lover and a new romance.

In the course of things, military secrets are revealed and Cooper is caught between following the military plan or exposing potential catastrophe. A sleaze vibe would have carried this subplot, like the one in American Hustle (you could admire and be annoyed with characters simultaneously), but such dynamics don’t surface in this film. The problem is that moral dilemmas emerge in predictable ways. The nice-guy Cooper, endears his audiences as he usually does, and even struggles with a torn conscience, but we never quite believe that he could be truly devious with every hair in place.

Other rolls by John Krazinski, Alec Baldwin and Bill Murray are small parts in the film that could add complexity, but they remain flat characters. Rachel McAdams and Emma Stone, however, ease into their rolls better than Cooper, although Stone has drawn criticism for playing a Hawaiian of Asian descent.

All said, when I saw the trailers, I wanted Aloha to be a great film. There are moments of suspense, passion, and drama that come off as entertaining; but compared to Cooper’s other films, like Silver Linings Playbook, and American Sniper, Aloha falls short. Better luck on the next one.

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