I have long admired Cameron Crowe, a Writer/Director who is a wordsmith, a keen observer of human nature, and an artist. He directed a movie that is one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time, Jerry Maguire, a movie I've probably watched 50 times. I can say all the lines.
Aloha is his latest effort, and I watched it last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the critics didn't like it.
I agree with Roosevelt on the subject of critics:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Cameron Crowe has created a terrific movie that strives mightily. It has flaws. Aloha is not a perfect movie. However, it is very watchable, and moving.
Michael watched it with me, and didn't look at his phone for most of the movie. Hey, a 19 year old who puts down his phone and pays attention, and is clearly and vocally delighted by many of the movie's scenes is a WIN in my book.
The main character in Aloha is Brian Gilchrist, played by the always watchable Bradley Cooper. His career is screwed up and he's been given a second chance. Yes, yes, I know the comparisons that will be made to Jerry Maguire. Cameron Crowe likes the theme of redemption. Seeing someone rebuild their life is endlessly fascinating. How can it not be? It's what we all wish for in the even of a catastrophe. Along the way, finding love with a feisty blonde is also a bonus.
Here's what I love about all the movies written by Cameron Crowe: he writes real people. His characters aren't just mouthing words that advance the plot. They don't just run from explosions. They seem like real people, people that you'd want to talk to at a party. Even the jerk characters are 3 dimensional. There's a character in Aloha who is constantly fiddling with things and waving his fingers -- and his nickname is "Fingers." I thought that was adorable. Critics probably hated it. Who cares.
Emma Stone plays a stereotypical gung-ho military type and at first I was rather amused and horrified with her character. Hollyweird tends to stereotype military folks and as the sister of a veteran, it pisses me off. However, Stone's character slowly becomes 3 dimensional as the movie goes on, and her performance is terrific. She deserves an Oscar nod. Ditto for Rachel McAdams, who is not one of the leads but has a very strong secondary role and really shines in it.
Finally, the movie was clearly shot in Hawaii. I feel like I got to go visit. No Travel Channel shots of the surf here. No romantic cliches. Aloha gives native Hawaiians their proper respect. There's cultural sensitivity. It's a side of Hawaii mainlanders rarely see, and I appreciated that.
My only real criticism of Aloha is that the script is a little bit hard to follow. It's complicated. There's a nice summary on Wikipedia, though, which explained it all.
Ignore the stupid critics. Rent Aloha from Netflix or RedBox or wherever. Just watch it and enjoy.