Director: Cameron Crowe (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, Vanilla Sky)
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Producers: Scott Rudin, Cameron Crowe
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 105 min.
If the “write what you know” credo is true for Cameron Crowe, he must be living a pretty solid life. Films like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous have deservedly lasted as cultural touchstones, but even then their conflicts seemed pretty inane in the grand scheme of things. It’d be something of an understatement to say that he’s been on a decline over the past decade, since at least the release of the dreadfully vanilla Elizabethtown demonstrated a complete lack of bite that had always been present in his work but only then had reached its apex to a resounding chorus of “who cares?” It took him six years to follow that up and while We Bought a Zoo wasn’t quite the piteous experience, it remained clear that Crowe had reached a point where his nascent charm had been too buried by sentimental earnestness that aroused as much rolling of the eyes as it did guilty smiles under a veil of confection.
It’s hard to argue that Aloha, his latest picture after another lengthy break, doesn’t continue the trend. Starring Bradley Cooper as a hotshot military contractor who returns to Hawaii after a disastrous setback in order to regain his mojo and respect, Crowe populates the luscious setting with as many pretty white faces as he can find. Emma Stone is the Air Force liaison sent to babysit Cooper’s Brian Gilcrest, Rachel McAdams is his former flame who is now shacked up with John Krasinski and their two adorable children, and even Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin pop in to steal a couple of scenes. While Aloha is (over) cluttered with a dense tapestry of plots ranging from nuclear arms in outer space to mythical Hawaiian legends, there’s always the pervading feeling that none of it really matters because everything will turn out okay in the end. Personal crises may be wreaking havoc on poor Gilcrest, but all you have to do is put on a Hall & Oates song and you can watch Emma Stone and Bill Murray deliver a deliriously entertaining dance sequence to make you forget all of your troubles.