“Aloha,” the new movie with Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams, has been panned by some critics, who called it “meandering and insubstantial” (Rotten Tomatoes). But do you go to the movies to see great art or to be entertained? I was entertained.
Perhaps it was the context of Hawaii and its indigenous culture that appealed to me in the film. Director Cameron Crowe takes us into the native community and gives grudging respect to the continuing fight for sovereignty over the land. But the film doesn’t really get into that viewpoint. Instead, the culture, music and dance of Hawaii lay an ethereal background for moral choices that must be faced by the protagonist, Brian Gilcrest (Cooper).
Movie poster for ‘Aloha.’ Courtesy/Reel Deal Theater
Gilcrest is a conflicted character, played expertly by Bradley Cooper who can do hardcore or romantic as needed. Brian Gilcrest had a reputation as a military hero and scientific genius, which leads him to be greatly admired by the young officer who has been assigned as his watchdog, Captain Allison Ng (Stone). At the same time, Gilcrest is reminded of past blunders by former girlfriend Tracy (McAdams).
He reunites with a Hawaiian war buddy in one moving act of the film, yet he’s sold out to a military contractor CEO (Bill Murray). The general who knew him as a flawed hero (Alec Baldwin) serves as a reminder of the man he once was. He must find his way back to that self, the person Tracy loved, the man worthy of the admiration of Allison. A little menehune magic may be needed to make it happen. Or it may just take the presence of Tracy’s kids, making Brian more honest with himself.
John Krasinski plays Tracy’s husband, Woody, whose gestures and stances speak louder than words. The interplay between Woody and Brian is worth the price of admission. But there is also the satellite technology, references to astrophysics and the philosophical/political question throughout: who owns the sky?
The movie is rated PG-13 for some thematic elements. It won’t win any Oscars, but it may entertain you. (And it will still be at Reel Deal next week!)