DVD Review: It’s not worth your time to say hello to ‘Aloha’

Jun Cai, Staff Writer

Living in Hawai’i, it is always exciting to see our surroundings and community in a blockbuster movie. However, when that movie does not meet our expectations, it is even more disappointing, which happens to be the case with director Cameron Crowe’s latest film “Aloha,” which was recently released on DVD.

Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper), a displaced military contractor who once worked with NASA, is sent back to Hawai’i to bless a pedestrian gate (along with other things). Accompanied by his enthusiastic “watchdog” Allison Ng (Emma Stone), the two adventure around O’ahu while Gilcrest rekindles a problematic relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Tracy (Rachel McAdams).

With the main cast as attractive and talented as Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone in a beautiful, culturally diverse place as O’ahu, how could anything go wrong? Apparently, quite a lot.

Let’s start with the casting. Once you move on over the fact Emma Stone’s that blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin complexion are part of a character who is supposedly a quarter Hawaiian and Chinese, you only start to notice the absence of local islanders in the movie’s cast. While there are a few native Hawaiians, the majority of the cast, including the extras, look like stereotypical people straight out of Hollywood who took advantage of the trip to O’ahu, put flowers in their hair, and cast themselves as locals.

Although Cooper and Stone are both reputable actors, the on-screen chemistry between their characters always seems off. Even though Brian (Cooper) and Ng (Stone) play love interests, there are many times when it seemed awkward, and unconvincing, portraying themselves as a forced friendship rather than romantic interests. The chemistry between Brian and his ex-girlfriend (McAdams) who is married, however, is significantly better.

While Emma Stone’s usual voice (slightly raspy and somewhat sarcastic) has fit perfectly for her roles in movies such as “Easy A”, it sounds out of place in some scenes of “Aloha.” When trying to warmly reflect on the Hawaiian traditions and values, she sounds sarcastic, even mocking at times, regardless of the fact that her character, Ng, is an enthusiast and cares deeply about the island culture.

Regardless of the potential O’ahu holds as a filming location, the cinematography is mediocre, and does not appear as priority to the director. Scenes such as the helicopter ride are indifferent, showing aerial views that other movies have shown before.

Surprisingly, director Cameron Crowe manages to briefly include a few of the many problems the locals are facing, with opinions on the illegal annexation of Hawai’i and land ownership issues, which play a role in the outcome of the movie.

Some of the scenes are not as cohesive as they could have been, switching from one to another like the work of an amateur editor. Some scenes are even completely irrelevant to the rest of the movie, simply taking up time without any significance to the rest of the plot.

As bland as it is, “Aloha” still manages to embody some of the island spirit, along with a few funny and touching scenes when you get over the white-washed casting. While it’s not worth your money to own a digital/DVD copy, “Aloha” may be a suitable rental for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Our Grade : C
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Adventure/Drama/Comedy
Length : 1 hr 45 min
Directed by: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams