‘Aloha’: A Romantic Comedy in a Tropical Paradise


It’d been far too long since I’d seen something on that big-screen that can only be experienced at the theater. This is why, on a whim, my mom and I went to go see Aloha. (Well that, plus the fact that we both like Bradley Cooper.) What happens from that spur-of-the-moment decision was a fun little trip over the Pacific Ocean. aloha

Aloha (2015) Film Review 

For Brian Gilcrest (Cooper), life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. Once part of the military ranks, Brian retires from his duties in order to become a private military contractor. His promising career is cut short when he suffers an injury that nearly kills him. Now suffering from nothing worse than a lingering limp, Brian returns to Hawaii for his chance at redemption, and possibly a return to his career in the private sector. While there he reconnects with his old girlfriend, Tracy (Rachel McAdams). Tracy is now married with a family, but she has secrets, and now she needs to tell someone. Then there is Alison Ng (Emma Stone), a promising young military pilot assigned as Brian’s liaison during negotiations.

With of the complications that arise, Brian must face his past and discovers that more than his career may be on the line…

Movies like Jerry McGuire and later, Almost Famous is on director (and writer) Cameron Crowe’s resume. I’ve not seen either of them but do enjoy his more recent directorial effort, We Bought a Zoo. When I saw the trailer for this, I thought it looked like a decent little movie that, if not award-winning, would be entertaining at the least. That is exactly what Aloha is. Maybe it’s because I love the cast or perhaps it’s the setting, whatever, the whimsical nature of this film works really well. Especially if I’m looking for something that doesn’t fit into the traditional box labeled with a specific genre.

This film is pretty much excoriated by critics across the board, plus stirs controversy with a character. Emma Stone plays a ¼ Hawaiian (which is a running joke in the script). Outrage that a blonde-haired actress was cast versus’ someone believable to have some Hawaiian heritage causes outrage. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me in the least. But then I go to this expecting nothing but a good time and that’s what I find. The scenery is naturally gorgeous and the camera showcases this it as does the story, which compliments (in my opinion) the Hawaiian Islands. I love the natural beauty, and the places we go because of that.

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Emma Stone and Bradley Cooper co-star in Cameron Crowe's 'Aloha' – A Romantic #Comedy in a Tropical Paradise Click To Tweet

This leads me to the cast. Emma Stone is a favorite ever since the Spider-Man re-boot movies and of course, Rachel McAdams is a favorite too. Both ladies are fantastic, and I especially like Emma’s scene with Bradley (nearer the end. Then there is Bradley Cooper. He too is a great asset to the movie and can do comedic as well as he can do serious – something I suspect he will be in more high demand for given the success of his role in American Sniper. Also a fun edition to the cast is John Karanski. His character is hilarious in an unexpected kind of way. The script does some unique things and because of this, the movie won’t be for everyone. In terms of production, this uses interesting silences, and conversations with subtitle (which is amusing) that works well with the movie because of the set up.

If there is a flaw, it’s the camera work. Occasionally the staging is odd; sometimes the camera jerks around to give us a view through a character’s eyes. When it comes right down to it, I really liked this film. The laughs are frequent and though it’s more comedy than romance, it’s a darn entertaining movie. Brian learns valuable lessons and “grows up” in ways he might not have recognized. The end isn’t the most traditional either, but for me, it’s somehow the right ending with a really beautiful emotional pull. Those of you looking for something different than the traditional summer box office film might enjoy this breath of fresh air. It was worth the ticket price.

Content: there is one f-word and a few other scattered profanities. One couple is in bed together, covered by the blankets as they talk. There may be a few other suggestive innuendos. The film is PG13.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


    1. It's really cute, Heidi. Hope you enjoy it, whenever you have a chance to catch it. (I think it comes to DVD within the next month, actually. Definitely a short turnaround from theater to DVD.)

  1. Glad to hear a positive review of this movie. I love Emma Stone (just saw her in Birdman) but all I heard about this movie was the controversy over her character. When I was a foster care worker, one of my kids was a boy with blond hair and blue eyes and he was 1/4 African-American so think Emma's look is possible, genetically.

    1. I really liked it, Lis. But I know, I'm likely in the minority. Emma is one of the reasons the film piqued my interest and she does a fantastic job in the role – great humor, I thought. That's interesting. It's nice to hear your story, makes Emma's character seem, genetically, 100% possible! :)

  2. I'm glad you got out to see this one Rissi, and liked it so much! I don't have high expectations for it, but I do still want to see it, and it sounds like it'll definitely we worth the rental. It's gotta be worth it of only for Bradley and Emma, right? :D It's funny what people get upset over… if she's 1/4 it's not impossible that's she'd have blonde hair and green eyes… Anyway, great review!

    1. Thanks, Sarah. I'm likely in the minority in liking this one, but what can I say? I went in expecting some laughs, and that's what I got, so it didn't bother me to realize the movie was "different." I hope you enjoy it when you catch this one, Sarah – I'll be looking forward to your impressions. And I agree. I've not had any first hand knowledge about the possibility of Emma's character being a blonde with Hawaiian heritage, but it seems possible. :)

  3. Eeeek! I am so so happy you reviewed this one, Rissi!! I usually like movies that have been critic-bashed as well and I *especially* think I'd like this one, because Bradley Cooper. *wink* Thanks for this great review!

    1. Thanks, Bekah – I had it reviewed a while back, and finally got around to post it. *sigh* My bad. It comes to DVD in a couple of weeks, though, so I'll enjoy seeing it again and hope you do! Bradley is excellent in this, as always. Thank you for reading! :)

  4. Having grown up there, I agree with this reviewer who says "we all know quarter-Hawaiians that look like that" ( http://www.honolulupulse.com/2015/05/review-aloha/ ) but I think what most people were upset about is that they had the chance to feature an … I don't want to say a more ethnically diverse actress, but they can't say that out of all the actresses trying to make it in Hollywood, they couldn't have found a capable one that could more easily pass as a 1/4 Native Hawaiian.

    Regardless, I think they should have given her character a different last name. Unless it's explained in the film, Ng is an Chinese last name … I think they should have given her a Caucasian last name (which would better fit with her "heritage" as part-Caucasian (which she looks completely) and part-Native Hawaiian).

    Don't get me wrong, I loved Emma Stone in Amazing Spider-Man also, but just wanted to give my perspective on it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the film! I don't normally seek out comedies today, since the content can be kind of … sketchy, but while I wasn't originally planning to watch this film because of all the casting controversy, after reading your review, I'll probably give it a shot if my library gets a copy. =)

    1. I understand that. I would agree casting directors certainly could have cast a Hawaiian actress or someone who wasn't "fair," anyway. Makes sense to me. Perhaps they opted for the name recognition over anything. (As it turned out, the box office wasn't kind to this film anyway. :D)

      You know, I don't remember if anything was said about her last name or not. I'll have to pay attention next time I see this one.

      I'm glad you did share. It's fun to hear from someone who grew up there. If you do see this one, I hope you enjoy. It's quirky, but cute and that's the charm of it. :) Happy watching.

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