3 Stars — Thoughtful

The necessity of being a moral and trustworthy person is clearly presented in Cameron Crowe’s film, Aloha. The Oscar-winning writer and director again writes and directs this film in a way that demonstrates his understanding of the human condition and our relationships.

Just as he demonstrated in his previous films, We Bought a Zoo, Vanilla Sky and Jerry Maguire, to name only a few, Crowe approaches the story with depth. Even when his film is not a home run, or it is even disturbing as we found Vanilla Sky to be, he nevertheless presents a thoughtful tale.

In Aloha, it is a tale of love and deceit, as we not only see what happens within relationships but when a billionaire attempts to weaponize the sky with his privately financed space satellite.

The casting of Bradley Cooper and Rachel McAdams as Brian Gilcrest and Tracy Woodside is excellent. Cooper’s haunted spirit and undeniable good looks easily draw us into the story of their troubled relationship, and McAdam’s feminine charm and attractive vulnerability causes us to wonder how he could have ever left her.

However, Emma Stone as Capt. Allison Ng misses the mark on several levels, not the least of which is the lack of onscreen chemistry required by the story and the assertion that she is one-quarter Hawaiian. Therefore, the final resolution of the love story, although moral and faithful, is less believable.

The decision to cast Bill Murray as the ambitious megalomaniacal billionaire, Carson Welch, is acceptable since his eccentricity is expected, and casting John Krasinski as John “Woody” Woodside, the silent and faithful antithesis to Cooper’s restless “bad boy” charm as Gilcrest, also works, not only in contrast to Woody but also in some comic relief.

The moral necessity for trust in relationships is clear, not only in love relationships, but also in the larger plot of the film when Gilcrest is brought in by Welch to manipulate both the Air Force and his good friend, Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele, who as the native leader of the “Nation of Hawai’i” needs to provide an approving blessing.

As Gilcrest struggles with his past immorality and unfaithfulness both in love and to his government, it is his final recognition that he must do what is right on all counts that centers the film and brings resolution to the story.

Although the happy ending is not always the immediate result of doing the right, trustworthy and moral act, it is a feel-good ending to this tale.


» When Brian ran from the commitment that Tracy was asking him to make, she turned to the solid though silent trustworthiness of Woody and married him. However, her heart longed for Brian until she was able to face the truth about who each of these men really were. How have you navigated both your personal and public relationships with untrustworthy people? How did you find the trustworthy ones?

» The discovery that Gen. Dixon (Alec Baldwin) made about the payload that Brian destroyed changed him to a hero from an outcast. Do you believe that addition to the tale made it stronger or weaker? Do you like happy endings? Why do you answer as you do?

» Brian’s journey from an idealistic boy who loved space to a cynical adult who lost his first love is an all-too-familiar trek. How have you protected the idealism of your first love? Or have you become cynical because you lost your first love as well as your initial childhood interests? How can you recover your integrity in both your values as well as your relationships?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.