Aloha (2015)



Critic Consensus: Meandering and insubstantial, Aloha finds writer-director Cameron Crowe at his most sentimental and least compelling.

Movie Info

Bradley Cooper stars as a defense worker who teams up with a pilot (Emma Stone) to stop a satellite launch in this romantic comedy from Cameron Crowe. Rachel McAdams co-stars. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

Rating: PG-13 (for some language including suggestive comments)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Cameron Crowe
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 25, 2015
Box Office: $21.1M
Sony Pictures - Official Site


as Brian Gilcrest

as Allison Ng

as Tracy Woodside

as Colonel Lacy

as Woody Woodside

as Carson Welch

as General Dixon

as Cam Curtis

as Bob Largent

as Launch Announcer - N...

as Carson Biographer

as Afghani Tribesman

as Afghani Tribesman

as Kingdom Security

as Spiritual Elder

as Spiritual Elder

as As Himself

as As Himself

as Guyton Galdeira

as Colonel Apodaca

as Air Force Officer

as Air Force Officer

as Air Force Officer

as Air Force Officer

as Military Wife Angela

as Military Wife Donna

as Senior Airman

as CIA Technician

as CIA Technician

as Global One Volunteer

as Launch Engineer

as Launch Engineer

as Launch Engineer

as Launch Engineer

as Launch Engineer

as Local Meteorologist

as Local Reporter

as Cashier

as Moms Fitness Instruc...

as Grace's Friend Jessi...

as Global One Helo Pilo...

as Young Gilcrest

as Hula Instructor

as Hula Girl

as Hula Girl

as Hula Girl

as Hula Girl

as Hula Girl

as Hula Girl

as Hula Girl
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News & Interviews for Aloha

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Critic Reviews for Aloha

All Critics (136) | Top Critics (39)

Even if this were well made in a technical sense, it would still be a weird heap of patriotism, astronomy, and Hawaiian folklore, piled atop a pat and predictable love story.

Full Review… | June 4, 2015
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

I'm sure Cameron Crowe will bounce back and make some more great films... but most will acknowledge that Aloha is a failure.

Full Review… | July 2, 2015
ABC Radio Brisbane

The movie serves up a taste of genuinely fraught and realistic native Hawaiian concerns, only to smushily sandwich them between thick slices of white people's well-meaning-ness, hokeyness and lovelorn dilemmas. Lei-lei land becomes la-la land.

Full Review… | June 26, 2015
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Cameron Crowe may have been aiming for something in Aloha, but somewhere along the way he forgot to make a film.

Full Review… | June 25, 2015

Cameron Crowe hits rock bottom with this dull and mostly incoherent romance...

Full Review… | June 23, 2015
Reel Film Reviews

Don't be fooled by the gorgeous Hawaiian setting, glossy sheen or star-studded cast ... Looks are deceiving. "Aloha" is a wreck and squanders every ounce of talent those A-listers possess. You'll be embarrassed for them.

Full Review… | June 21, 2015
The Patriot Ledger

Audience Reviews for Aloha

Bradley Cooper plays Bradley Cooper in a convoluted Cameron Crowe dramedy that attempts to tackle everything under the bright Hawaiian sun: personal and professional redemption, race and colonialism, long-lost love juxtaposed with budding chemistry, macho-male stand-offs and whose-your-daddy doubt, and of course, military inside jokes and weapons of mass destruction.

While there are plenty of problems with the movie, the media has focused on the whitewashing of the cast, which is a fair point when looking at the film's landscape as a whole. However, the criticism leveled against Crowe's choice to cast "white-looking" Emma Stone as an Asian woman is unfounded and racist in itself. That is because Air Force pilot Allison Ng isn't just Asian, just like how Barack Obama isn't just black. She is a quarter Hawaiian, a quarter Chinese, and half Swedish, and when Asian-Pacific is diluted down to 1/2, blond hair and blue eyes are within the realm of possibility. The criticisms are problematic because in terms of checking the ethnicity census box, when we identify mixed race people only by the non-white descriptor, it perpetuates the idea that white is the default - unnecessary to mention because it's so normal and not "unique" - and it also implies that the non-white side is what makes up the bulk of their personality or sociocultural identity, both of which are regressive assumptions.

Crowe issued an apt non-apology for hurt feelings and explained his intent of portraying a real-life, blond-haired, blue-eyed Hawaiian/Chinese/Swedish woman he knew who embraced her Otherness while looking ostensibly White. East Asians have a slang term for those who are too assimilated into white culture: Twinkies - yellow on the outside, white on the inside. Allison would be called (perhaps pejoratively) an egg - white on the outside, yellow on the inside - and she does mention her heritage so much in the movie that it hints at some self-consciousness about her white outer appearance clashing with her mixed DNA, and she overcompensates by announcing her Hawaiian pride to whomever will listen. That juxtaposition makes for a really compelling character. Not necessarily more compelling than a Hawaiian/Chinese character who looks Hawaiian/Chinese and could be portrayed by a deserving Hawaiian and/or Chinese actress, but that's probably why Olivia Munn, Janel Parish, or Sandrine Holt, talented part-Asian-Pacific AND "Asian-Pacific-looking" actresses, weren't cast.

Many people think color and ethnicity is all that matters for ethnic roles: "Why didn't Cameron Crowe cast any of these truly mixed heritage actresses?" Well, that seems to say that color and experience are interchangeable. Munn, Parish, and Holt are part-Asian-Pacific, and there's probably an actress out there who IS a quarter Hawaiian, a quarter Chinese, and half Swedish. Does that mean they are all more deserving of this mixed role? Do they understand the complex duality of in-group inclusion and out-group alienation more than Emma Stone does just by virtue of their skin color?

We, as spectators and media critics, can't possibly know this or make that judgment call. We generally accept the fact that actors are actors, stepping into characters who may or may not share varying degrees of similarity with themselves, so why can't we accept that convention for multi-ethnic roles? We don't mind so much when Australian actors adopt American accents or when Black British actors play African American historical figures; we only mind if the attempt is unconvincing. However, when it comes to ethnic characters beyond black and white, we still need the ethnic character to conform to that congruous visual identification of being "ethnic-looking"; otherwise, we find it hard to suspend disbelief, which is a myopic worldview especially for such a diverse backdrop as Hawaii.

While mainstream films can certainly incorporate more diversity, diversity for diversity's sake can become just as offensive as the lack thereof. Non-white actors walk a thin line when it comes to portraying non-white characters. They understand that "ethnic roles" are the only ones that their appearances fit, but they don't want a director to approach them to play such a character just because they have the ethnic look, even if the role is substantial. All any working actor wants is a meaty role, and in a truly diverse and equal world, Asians can play non-Asian roles and whites can play non-white roles (barring historical figures perhaps, or roles that redefine race out of spite, or reinterpretive roles that are merely star-making vehicles not in service of a strong story and authentic portrayals). After all, every person has ethnicity and every culture is ethnic; diversity doesn't just mean non-white.

Emma Stone may lack Allison Ng's exact genetic make-up, but I didn't find her outer appearance unbelievable, perhaps due to her unique eyes (which are huge and anime-like when open and long slivers when she smiles, and yes, I'm employing stereotypical expectations of Asian eyes being "unique" here). I didn't find her undeserving of the role because she played the plucky, goofy, sassy role as written and was fairly competent at it, charming even.

Now, the movie as a whole has a lot more narrative, character, political, racial, and scientific problems than Emma Stone playing a woman of mixed ethnicity. Allison isn't a bad role, but it's not a great role either. She is Crowe's epitome of the cute and clever supporting MPDG, and beyond the cool first shot of her donning her Aviators, we don't actually get to see Allison in her professional element; her flying competency is only ever complimented by men of high brass.

If we are to blame Crowe for anything, it shouldn't be for his casting decision because Stone's look actually works for the "egg" he intended. If anything, we are blaming him for not writing a fully Asian-Pacific female romantic interest to begin with, but then we'd be asking for blanket affirmative action and not what we ask of artists: to make the piece of art they set out to make. If this is the movie he intended, well, maybe we should just blame him for making an uneven movie. Woody's angsty hissy-fit over Brian coming to town is sudden and inexplicable considering Tracy had been suffering Woody's radio silence for a while now. Brian's plan to foil the launch doesn't make much sense, and the nature of his entire contracting job is cloudy (another example of Crowe not doing his research on the occupations about which he writes *see or don't see "Elizabethtown"). My favorite moment does get a kudos though: Grace sees Brian outside her hula dancing studio, and she slowly realizes why he's there. The dawning look on young Danielle Rose Russell's face and her cathartic crying as she's simultaneously dancing is touching and impressive.

Alice Shen

Super Reviewer


Where to begin with "Aloha"... Cameron Crowe's most recent written and directed piece enters mainly around Bradley Cooper's character (Brian), who returns to his hometown of Hawaii where he spends time with a lost love and a new pilot, Ng (Emma Stone). As far as side stories and underlying tones go, they are endless throughout this film. Not only is it all over the place as far as storytelling goes, but in the script, editing department, and direction, "Aloha" is all over the place. Clearly chopped to fit a thinner run time, this film hurts in more ways than one. The cast is fantastic and I enjoy them in most of their films; however, they have absolutely no chemistry here and every scene comes off as too quirky and awkward to really buy into it. Being a huge fan of some of Cameron Crowe's classics, I had high hopes that he would be returning to form, but this is so far from his original formula, I worry that his glory days will always remain behind him. There are some nice concluding moments and one scene that had me laughing hysterically, but that was not enough to make me care for the film as a whole. To put it simply, "Aloha" is a jumbled, awkward mess that never finds the right balance. An outright awkward cheese-fest of a film!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

ALMOST NAUSEOUS - My Review of ALOHA (2 Stars)

As a long-time Cameron Crowe fan, it pains me to report that his latest film, ALOHA, is more of a goodbye than a hello. Getting his start by adapting his novel to a hilarious screenplay for the 1982 classic, FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, Crowe continued to impress with the indelible SAY ANYTHING, the terrific grunge-era SINGLES, the memorable JERRY MAGUIRE, and one of my favorite films of all time, ALMOST FAMOUS. Sure, he's stumbled, in my opinion, with VANILLA SKY and the truly terrible ELIZABETHTOWN, but his last film, WE BOUGHT A ZOO has its charms.

Now we have ALOHA, and I have to admit I spent more time trying to come up with a review title than I did remembering this painful, tone deaf, flat moviegoing experience. Some of the runner-ups included SAY NOTHING, SHOW ME THE UNFUNNY, and WE LEI'D AN EGG. I'm telling you, this is painful to write. The world needs Cameron Crowe now more than ever. He's part of the brigade that includes James L. Brooks and Alexander Payne, who strive to make humanist films in an endless sea of 3D Superheroes and interchangeable animated characters who somehow manage to merit their own individual bus stop ads. When dramas flop, it makes it that much harder for anymore to get made.

I WANTED this film to be great and yet what we got was either a Social Issue movie disguised as a Rom-Com or a Rom-Com disguised as a Social Issue movie. Either way, it plops right from the get-go. Bradley Cooper plays Brian Gilcrest, an injured war veteran who returns to Honolulu to negotiate for a privatized satellite company. His pre-existing relationship with a native Hawaiian leader, is the type of trust his billionaire boss, Carson Welch (Bill Murray) relies on in order to sneakily weaponize the sky. So Gilcrest is a liar and an all-around bad dude, whose redeeming quality is that he has the hots for Allison Ng (Emma Stone), a sharply saluting military lifer who has standards, morals, and an inexplicable lack of ethnicity. She represents the side of preserving the natural beauty and mysteries of the island. In a typical triangle, you would have another woman who leads Gilcrest in another direction on the issue. Instead, we get the totally unrelated storyline of his ex, Tracy Woodside (Rachel McAdams), who is now married to the strong, silent John (John Krasinski).

They exist don't us what a lump Brian has become? Ms. Ng already helps us out there. Perhaps they exist to show Brian what he REALLY wants out of life. Again, Ng to the rescue. So, this triad feels tacked on and not at all organic to the environmental/anti-war issues at hand.

As such, the movie is all over the place, lurching from one insubstantial scene to the next, back and forth between the romance and the bombs, allowing an endless array of music cues and dull montages to tell us how to feel. I did, however, love the use of Fleetwood Mac's TUSK-era "I Know I'm Not Wrong". Cameron Crowe has always had great taste in music, although using "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" as Alec Baldwin's Top Brass Theme Song is way too on-the-nose to work. Still, there's some good judgment here, but it doesn't make up for his total disconnect from his own material.

Quirky characters are introduced, such as the Woodside's camera-toting young son, but are given no real through-line. Worse yet, scenes are staged so poorly, with a handheld camera clumsily circling around our stars, suggesting a "let's just do everything in one quick take so we can go home early" quality. I can't fault cinematographer Eric Gautier, who has done wonderful work before with THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES and INTO THE WILD, so I'm going to guess that Crowe just didn't quite know how to pull together all of these disparate elements into a cohesive story.

It's sad, because there are some things that actually work. All of the actors deliver vivid, lived-in performances, adding that special Crowe-ian Spin to their line readings. Krasinski in particular is asked to do a LOT without dialogue, and despite it coming out of nowhere, one of those scenes is subtitled and is a source of temporary amusement. Every now and then, a character just blurts out how he/she feels, such as when Brian sees Allison in a new light and simply states, "Uh oh, I'm a goner" (or something to that effect). It's charming when done right, and Crowe has had more hits than misses with this technique.

When all is said and done, I just didn't care. I didn't care who ended up with whom, and I didn't care what happened to Bill Murray and his machinations. He may have wanted to put a bomb in space, but the only thing I'll remember from this fiasco is that Cameron Crowe put a bomb in movie theaters.

Glenn Gaylord
Glenn Gaylord

Super Reviewer

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