Recently, one of my noble 3.5 readers accused this blogger of mincing words. I described San Andreas as “not the best film I’ve ever seen but not the best either.”
The aforementioned reader had a point. As a reviewer, I need to take a side.
Luckily, Cameron Crowe’s romcom Aloha makes it easy for me to be clear:
Bookshelf Q. Battler here with a review of one of the worst damn movies he’s ever seen in his entire life.
Aloha – Sony Pictures
Some movies are entrees – served up with expert precision, arranged on your plate in such a beautiful manner that you almost don’t want to eat them out of fear that once you do, the experience will be over.
Then, some movies are like a five dollar all you can eat buffet. You shove a little bit of everything in your cake hole and the only result is that you leave feeling bloated and gassy.
With several storylines that meander all over and never quite hit their mark, Aloha, I’m sad to say, is one of those buffet movies.
OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING
I’m sad to say it because it’s not the star studded cast’s fault. Bradley Cooper (Gilcrest) is charming, Emma Stone (Captain Ng) is adorable, and Bill Murray (Welch) is his usual zany self, though he’s more reserved these days as an elder statesman of comedy. Rachel McAdams (Tracy) aptly plays Gilcrest’s long lost love while John Krasinski provides one of the funnier (dare I say redeeming) scenes of the film as Woodside, Tracy’s husband who, despite his strong silent type demeanor is able to communicate all he needs to say to Gilcrest with a few looks and a shoulder grab.
Plot lines are tossed at the audience like they’re tennis balls stuffed into a serve-o-matic machine stuck on the automatic setting.
Gilcrest and Tracy have to deal with their baggage. Woodside has to learn how to communicate with his wife with actual words. Ng is all business and is a zealous defender of native Hawaiian culture, Gilcrest has to choose between his job or his new love interest. Welch is trying to launch his own space weapon in the guise of a communications satellite and those are just the highlights.
Character development isn’t the film’s strong suit. We’re shown a brief Afghanistan flashback scene where Gilcrest is so distraught over his life that he doesn’t care when he’s shot by (I guess they were terrorists? It wasn’t really explained). Welch lobs an accusation that Gilcrest took a hundred thousand dollar bribe during his time in Afghanistan and that enormous plot line is never fully resolved, thus putting me in the awkward position of being expected by Hollywood to hope that an alleged traitor to his country will overcome the obstacles standing between him and his new lady love in true sappily sweet romantic comedy fashion.
Sadly, the film has two important messages that get lost amidst all the tomfoolery:
1) All those vacation brochures you drool over that make you wish you could be in Hawaii right now are all well and good, but America isn’t in it for the macademia nuts and pretty scenery. Hawaii serves as the lynchpin of America’s sphere of influence in the Pacific. Seeing as how the islands play a vital role when it comes to U.S. global interests, we could probably do more to help the native people who call it home, many of whom aren’t exactly thrilled that we’re there.
2) Over the past several years, space exploration has moved from government to private business control, with the claim fed to the populace that this is somehow a great move, that the uber rich will be able to dump more money into space technology than governments can. That may be true, but as this film warns, people like Welch might use that power for unsavory purposes, though a billionaire trying to launch his own weaponized satellite seems like it’s more fitting in a James Bond film than a romcom.
Overall, the movie isn’t so much a cooked to perfection filet mignon so much as it is a bubbling over gumbo where Crowe, as chef, just tossed everything in his kitchen into the pot. Is this a story about one man’s attempt to find hope again after the world has put him through the ringer? Is it about love? Is it about the military industrial complex?
The best description I can give is that Crowe took his signature work, Jerry Maguire, mixed it up with one of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels, then went heavy on the romantic comedy angle, shortchanged the seedy, dirty military contractor angle and left the audience thinking that sadly, the no plot action film starring the ex-wrestler in the theater next door might have been the better choice this weekend…
…which isn’t saying a lot.
STATUS: Not shelf worthy.