Monday, June 01, 2015
Aloha (2015 film)
Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, Aloha is the story of a defense contractor who is assigned to go to Hawaii to oversee the launch of a satellite as he falls for an Air Force pilot while dealing with an old flame. The film is an exploration of a man who finds himself back in a world with people he used to know as he tries to maintain a sense of hope and something new in old surroundings. Starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin, and Bill Murray. Aloha is a hokey, sappy, and extremely ludicrous film from Cameron Crowe.
A defense contractor hired by a billionaire to oversee the launch of a satellite that is to be above Hawaii finds himself not only falling for his Air Force pilot liaison but also deal with the re-appearance of an old flame he hadn’t seen in years. It’s a film that wants to be a lot of things where it’s not just this man who used to be so much to people as all he wants to do is finish this project and leave Hawaii yet he is encountered by this idealistic and lively young woman who wants him to show a world that is far more important and with possibilities. At the same time, there’s a lot that is happening as it relates to the life of Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) who deals with things in his past as well as the satellite he’s about to launch for this billionaire. Thus, lies the problem with the film at a whole. It has a lot that it wants to tell yet has no idea what it wants to be.
Cameron Crowe’s screenplay isn’t just a mess but it doesn’t really have characters that audiences will be engaged by nor will they care about. Instead, there’s just caricatures as Gilcrest is the cynic who has given up on leading a good life as he is seen as a screw-up by former colleagues. The idealist is the Air Force pilot Alison Ng (Emma Stone) who is a quarter-Hawaiian as she loves her home state as she is interested in Gilcrest’s past as well as his relationship with ex-girlfriend Tracy Woodside (Rachel McAdams) who is married to a pilot named Woody (John Krasinski) who is mostly very silent. Ng is a combination of the idealist who is eager to make Gilcrest see the better things in the world and to play into some of the folklore of Hawaii among its natives. It’s not a real character but rather someone that is very underdeveloped as is Tracy who is just a frustrated former flame and Woody is just this silent idiot as they both have children who aren’t real characters either since the son spends half the film carrying a video camera and talking about Hawaiian folklore constantly.
Another problem with the script is how obvious things are as it relates to Tracy’s daughter Grace (Danielle Rose Russell) who is 12 years old as it was sort of the exact same time Gilcrest and Tracy last saw each other. That’s just part of the script’s laziness where it plays into what audience might already know which hurts any kind of intrigue while other parts of the script such as Gilcrest’s relationship with Alison feels very rushed as it is obvious that they will fall in love but it goes very fast. Then there’s the story about Gilcrest’s job as it relates to this billionaire’s satellite and how the military is bought where it is clumsily written where military officials look like idiots while the character of the billionaire Carson Welch (Bill Murray) isn’t just underwritten but is also a caricature as someone who looks and feels like he is in another movie.
Crowe’s direction of the film doesn’t help matters of what is wrong the script but only makes things even worse. Much of it involves his presentation of Hawaii where it feels more like a postcard and a lot of white-washing where white people live in comfortable places while Hawaiian natives live in trailer parks. It’s has Crowe portray its main characters as white saviors unaware that there’s people that are going to fuck these natives over all because of what a billionaire wants. The direction has some unique compositions but nothing to really make anything interesting as there’s moments such as the first meeting between Gilcrest, Alison, and Tracy are all shot in one take where the camera would move from a two shot to a one shot to create something that is funny but it ends up not being funny at all. It’s among the things in the film that really tries to hard to win over the audience as a lot of the humor such as Woody’s silent communication ends up being very awkward and idiotic while other moments feel forced.
Another issue with Crowe’s direction is the way he uses music as about 90 to 95% of the film has a soundtrack that often has some kind of musical accompaniment whether it’s through Jonsi & Alex’s score which mixes ambient music and Hawaiian folk music or through whatever song that Crowe brings to the film. At one point, there’s a scene where Gilcrest’s former superior General Dixon (Alec Baldwin) to play Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rules the World where it really feels more like an excuse to play that song in the film for a party scene as if Crowe wants a song used to drive the story. It’s really a lazy plot device where not only does it become very repetitive but also distracting. There is also a feeling like there was a longer film there but either due to studio interference or Crowe made the decision to cut some things out. Whatever the case is, it feels like a film that had something there but the result is something that ends up being extremely conventional.
Another aspect of the film aside from some of the contrived nature of the story and how muddled it is where it wants to be so many things is that it ends in a resolution that is very tidy and extremely predictable. It is a conclusion that just reeks of unearned sentimentality as well as poor development that feels like a fucking waste of time. Overall, Crowe creates what is undoubtedly a very horrible film that never says anything interesting at all.
On the film’s technical front, the work of cinematographer Eric Gautier is very bland as some of the daytime exterior scenes look over-lit at times while there’s moments where the lighting for scenes at night don’t really do anything to make it interesting on a visual level. Even the editing by Joe Hutshing is distracting where it tries to be stylish and be straightforward but is unable to play into the muddled tone of the film. Production designer Clay A. Griffith, with art director Peter Borck and set decorators William Reyes Jr. and Wayne Shepherd, definitely play up the sense of white-washing in the film in the way Tracy and Woody‘s home look in comparison to where the native Hawaiians live in which is very uninteresting. Costume designer Deborah Lynn Scott doesn‘t do a very good job with the clothes as much of it is bland as it also includes one of the worst hats ever. Visual effects supervisor Jamie Dixon does some very awful work with some of the visual effects as it relates to some sequences in outer space which looks bad. Sound editor Dennis Drummond and sound designer Jamey Scott do an OK job in some of the sound work though it was unfortunate that some of it is often mixed with a lot of the music that appears in the film.
The casting by Francine Maisler is good for the cast she was able to bring though it is very unfortunate that many of them didn’t have a single good thing to work on. Smaller performances from Ivana Milicevic as Carson’s assistant, Hawaiian native leader Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele, Michael Chernus as a hacker friend of Gilcrest, and Bill Camp as a military figure friend of Gilcrest as they’re all sort of wasted by the poor script. Jaeden Lieberher’s performance as Woody and Tracy’s youngest son Mitchell is a poorly written character that is very annoying as Lieberher is just aggravating to watch while Danielle Rose Russell as Woody and Tracy’s daughter Grace doesn’t really get to do anything at all. Alec Baldwin is wasted in a very poor role as General Dixon as someone who has a grudge with Gilcrest as he spends half of his time screaming and shit Danny McBride is also terrible as he plays Colonel “Fingers” Lacy as an old friend of Gilcrest who spends much of the film waving his fingers as if he wants to be a fucking cheerleader.
Bill Murray’s performance as billionaire Carson Welch is essentially Murray phoning it in as if he is in another movie as there are a few moments that are fun but it’s just quite lazy. John Krasinski’s role as Woody is pretty dumb since he spends much of the film being silent while a scene where he and Gilcrest communicate through silence is idiotic. Rachel McAdams is OK as Tracy as a former flame of Gilcrest who wonders if she still has feelings for him as it’s a character that isn’t developed very well as McAdams gets very little to do. Emma Stone has her moments as Alison Ng with her liveliness but it’s a character that is a fucking mess to deal with as it’s badly written at times while her attempts to be funny feels forced. Finally there’s Bradley Cooper as Brian Gilcrest as it’s not a bad performance but a very bland one where his attempts to be funny also feels forced while he is badly hampered by its poor screenplay which ruins his development as a character and gives his chance to find redemption to be poorly handled.
Aloha is a fucking piece of shit film from Cameron Crowe. Not only is it a film where a filmmaker loses his touch but also finds himself taking some major steps backwards as a storyteller where he tries to do so much but forgets to create real characters that people can root for. Whether or not this was the film that Crowe intended to make, it feels like there was a lot to be said but the end result really says nothing to make anyone laugh, cry, or feel anything other than anger and disgust. In the end, Aloha is a film that will make anyone say aloha and fuck off for insulting their intelligence.
Cameron Crowe Films: (Say Anything) - (Singles) - (Jerry Maguire) - Almost Famous - (Vanilla Sky) - (Elizabethtown) - The Union (2011 film) - Pearl Jam Twenty - We Bought a Zoo
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