Bradley Cooper is Brian Gilcrest. When in the military, he once did miraculous things for the U.S. space program in Hawaii. He returns to the islands as a retired but wounded veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan. Gilcrest is there to help a billionaire contractor with a space project.
The trip is not a happy one, especially when he reconnects with an old — but now happily married — flame.
The ex is played by Rachel McAdams (both Sherlock Holmes flicks), and she’s married to The Office’s John Krasinski’s Woody Woodside. The hubby is a stoic pilot prone to silence. She has a secret that’s not so hard to figure out, and they have to hash over why he failed to show up for a rendezvous several years before.
Meanwhile, romance blossoms with Emma Stone’s effervescent Allison Ng, who is a captain assigned to escort Gilcrest around the island.
Mashed into writer/director Cameron Crowe’s ( Jerry McGuire) scattershot plot is Gilcrest’s dicey but not well-explained relationship with Bill Murray’s billionaire and an uptight general played by Alec Baldwin.
The last part of the plot puzzle is how the military and billionaire may be in cahoots to do something illegal in space, which brings us full-circle to Stone’s character Ng, who is a native Hawaiian and honors Hawaiian traditions and lore.
It’s impossible not to like the actors. The charismatic Cooper and Stone have exceptional chemistry, as do Cooper and McAdams. Murray and Baldwin have little to do but be the way Murray and Baldwin always are in movies.
Krasinski is completely wasted.
Early in Aloha, Stone’s Ng bursts into a scene, blathering lines of dialogue at supersonic speed. It’s a good metaphor and explains Crowe’s approach to the rest of the movie. Important plot points whiz by. Crowe figures that tossing out one or two lines about each major character means you’ll know them well enough to advance his story.
And Crowe has an irritating habit of putting pop songs under much of the dialogue. It’s often so loud that it wipes out the lines, not that you end up caring much about the lines anyway.
The great cast and the story’s potential don’t live up to the expectations found in the trailer. Say aloha — as in goodbye — to Aloha.