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ALOHA Trouble In Paradise

Aloha
Aloha

Directed by Cameron Crowe

Starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray

Military contractor Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) returns to Hawaii to help facilitate the construction of a new launch platform, representing a melding of civilian and military interests in space. His time on the island is complicated by both by the appearance of the former love of his life, Tracy (Rachel McAdams), that he hasn’t seen in 13 years, as well as a beautiful hot shot military liaison, Allison Ng (Emma Stone), who is attached to him. As Ng starts to develop feelings for him, Gilcrest must sort out how he feels about his past relationship and his growing attraction to his colleague. Somehow he must put his dubious past behind him, complete the negotiation, and work out the dictates of his heart.

That’s the cut down version. The actual story also involves Hawaiian spirits, shady billionaires, space weaponry, mercenaries, an oceanic rocket platform, the Middle East, Chinese hackers, and the ability to shoot down a satellite with a rainbow (alright – the last one is an exaggeration, but not by as much as you think). All of which sounds admittedly awesome, but utterly fails to generate any excitement or even a coherent storyline. It is just a mish-mash of ideas thrown into the mix that takes second place to the character’s love story and emotional arc.

Fine.

It’s just with all this craziness on screen, and a complete lack of explanation about much of it, the audience is constantly distracted from that previously mentioned love story, or that emotional redemption arc of Gilcrest, or absolutely anything else. There are times when no matter how astute a viewer you are, you can feel totally at a loss to explain what is going on. Such as why a civilian contractor that may have been a pilot, and has ties to the space program, as well as a trained negotiator, is suddenly an elite hacker in the third act? Aloha is consistently bewildering on just this level.

To be fair, there are moments where it does shine, albeit very rarely. Occasionally the chemistry on screen is just right and Aloha is concentrating on just a few of the less fantastic elements in its script. Both Stone and McAdams do as much as they can with mere outlines of characters that are really little more than clichés. Cooper is probably miscast here, not being able to bring any real degree of sorrow or guilt to Gilcrest. Consequently he is actually incapable of making him the broken man we are constantly told by the script that he is supposed to be. Murray and Baldwin are a lot of fun on screen (as to be expected), but are really in minor roles and don’t have enough screen time.

Writer and director Cameron Crowe has created an overstuffed and under-baked piece that can’t decide what it really wants to be. Aloha is the most confusing and disappointing island adventure since the Lost finale.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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