I am a fan of Cameron Crowe. Not only did he live out my childhood dream of being a teenage rock journalist and touring with Led Zeppelin but he also wrote “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and gave us the sublime “Almost Famous.” So when it comes to his new film, “Aloha,” it gives me no pleasure to report, in a paraphrase of one of the master’s greatest lines, it didn’t have me at hello. Or goodbye for that matter.
Bradley Cooper plays Brian Gilcrest, a disgraced defense military contractor hired by his old boss, billionaire Carson Welch (Bill Murray), to supervise the launch of a satellite in Hawaii. He’s a brilliant but troubled guy—he’s described as a “sad city coyote”—with a history who is immediately confronted with his romantic past in the form of his former flame Tracy (Rachel McAdams). At his side is the stern Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone) assigned to keep him out of trouble. Romance blooms as international intrigue brews with Gilcrest at the center of each scenario.
“Aloha” is part rom com, part industrial thriller and part redemption tale. Crowe covers a lot of ground here but the story elements are as flavourless as a Virgin Mai Tai and just about as potent. The director attempts to mix the various components together under the soft sheen of Hawaiian mythology and spiritualism but the film still feels disjointed as though it’s two different stories mashed into one.
Crowe’s dialogue occasionally sparkles—“You’ve sold your soul so many times nobody’s buying anymore,” is a great line—but it’s not enough to connect us to the situation or the characters. As a result it’s a film with good actors who feel disconnected from one another.
“Aloha” is a sweet natured misfire, a movie that, to once again paraphrase Crowe, does not show us the money.