Cameron Crowe is a great writer. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Say Anything," "Singles," "Jerry Maguire" and the Best Original Screenplay Oscar-winning "Almost Famous" are some of the most quotable movies from the past 30 years. Though his efforts since 2000’s "Almost Famous" have been uneven, my love for Crowe has not diminished, and I remain hopeful he’ll recapture that former magic. In his new movie, "Aloha," the best of his trademark idiosyncratic banter and character interactions occasionally bubble to the surface.
Bradley Cooper is Brian, an innovative military contractor with a keen interest in space who used to live in Hawaii. He returns there expecting to complete a deal for a billionaire for whom he’s been working named Carson Welch (Bill Murray). He didn’t necessarily expect to see his ex-girlfriend, Tracy (Rachel McAdams), who’s married to and has two kids with military pilot Woody (John Krasinski). Enter Emma Stone’s Allison Ng, a pilot assigned to be Brian’s watchdog. She’s very by-the-book, and very interested in Brian in more ways than just professionally.
Then there’s Hawaii. Crowe’s efforts to make Hawaiian culture part of this story are a bit convoluted and feel forced. So does the Brian-Allison sub-plot. On the flip side, Tracy feels like an amalgam of Diane and Corey from "Say Anything," with a bit Penny Lane from "Almost Famous" sprinkled in -- three of Crowe’s best and most beautifully written characters, so I can’t complain about that. Also, Cooper’s chemistry with McAdams is considerably better than his chemistry with Stone.
There are plenty of likable nuggets in Aloha, particularly Danny McBride’s quirky Col. “Fingers” Lacy character; the two young actors who play McAdams’ children, Danielle Rose Russell and Jaeden Lieberher (the latter of whom was also outstanding opposite Murray in last year’s "St. Vincent"); and the scenes between Cooper and Krasinski.
Unfortunately, it all just isn’t enough to make "Aloha" a truly good movie.