dir-scr Cameron Crowe
prd Cameron Crowe, Scott Rudin
with Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin, Bill Camp, Jaeden Lieberher, Danielle Rose Russell, Michael Chernus, Edi Gathegi
release US 29.May.15, UK 18.Sep.15
15/US Columbia 1h45
Native Hawaiians: Cooper and Stone

mcadams murray krasinski
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Aloha As mindless fluff, this rom-com is just about watchable. Which of course isn't quite enough for a Cameron Crowe movie. It's an uneven mix of politics and romance, loaded with comical touches but never actually funny and sometimes a bit embarrassing. In other words, it's like watching your dad (or in this case Bill Murray) dance at a Christmas party.

Soldier-turned-contractor Brian (Cooper) is going home to Hawaii on assignment for his boss (Murray) to negotiate commercial rights with his old pal King Kanahele. He immediately runs into former flame Tracy (McAdams), who is now married to his pilot buddy Woody (Krasinski), and meets his military liaison, the hotshot Hawaiian native Allison (Stone). Despite her intensely annoying chipper personality, the relentlessly grumpy Brian begins to fall for her. But when she discovers the truth about his boss' nefarious plan, she's furious. Meanwhile, Tracy is having marital problems and turns to Brian for support.

Nothing about this plot holds water, because it's so obvious how every story thread will turn out. The political drama, military intrigue and romantic triangle are little more than a collection of corny coincidences that Crowe tries to spice up with wacky situations and characters, plus a lot of pointless prattle about missiles, satellites and Chinese hackers. Everything is contrived, and the plot is so flimsy that it collapses before it can get up to speed.

There are a few sweetly emotional moments along the way, mainly because the charismatic cast members so effortlessly revel in Crowe's easygoing vibe. These are likeable, messy characters, each with a personality tic for the actor to play with. Cooper and Stone make the most of Crowe's witty dialog, although Brian and Allison are never believable as a couple. The story's only complex element is Tracy and Woody's marriage, which is nicely played by McAdams and Krasinski but trivialised by Crowe. So it's impossible to have any emotional investment.

Crowe seems to have been aiming for an old-school screwball comedy vibe, but the various elements simply never click into place. While the film is packed with local culture and traditions, its focus is on a multinational corporation that takes advantage of ancient societies, breaking promises as it uses private cash to pull strings in the government and military. A more robust script might have supported this big issue, but Crowe's approach seems to end up suggesting that corruption is cute.

cert 12 themes, language 23.Aug.15

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Aloha Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall