Film Review: Aloha

by Mark Woodhouse

Rated M. Starring Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone. Directed by Cameron Crowe.

Aloha! Wait. Please don’t leave…

Aloha follows military contractor Brian Gilcrest (Cooper) as he returns to Hawaii for work, where he runs into ex-girlfriend Tracy Woodside (McAdams). His Military babysitter is high-flying Allison Ng (who wants you to know she’s a quarter Hawaiian) (Stone), and Gilcrest finds her enthusiasm very annoying. And, well, you can see where this is going…

And other stuff happens in the film. I’m sure it’s vaguely connected in some way. There’s a rocket launch. There’s a kid who films everything. There’s a crazy rich guy (Bill Murray, who I somehow suspect was just playing himself). There’s ‘exciting’ science of some kind. But frankly, the plot is confusing, the script disjointed, and the action shallow. And even though it is so predictable, I don’t remember ever being so confused in a film that wasn’t trying to confuse me.

There are some good things to say. The acting is good (but with this much star power, you’d hope it would be). And Alec Baldwin is the highlight as the furious General Dixon. So the actors come out of it fairly well.

And so does Hawaii, because it’s a beautiful place.

And there are actually some native Hawaiian characters, despite the criticism of ‘whitewashing’. In fact, we get a bit of a look into what the Hawaiians think of being American (they’re not fans). We learn a bit about their spirituality and beliefs, their honouring of ‘spirits’, and their reverence for nature, particularly the sky.

It’s pretty different from Christian spirituality. In fact, it’s the kind of thing Paul warns against in Colossians 2:8-10:

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”

Scripture tells us that Jesus is so much better than the kind of spirituality we see in Aloha, because he is God! Jesus is the boss of these spirits. We don’t need to fear them or revere them, like the characters in Aloha do. And Jesus is much better than these spirits, because he has died in our place (Col 1:20)!

Aloha is a disappointing film with a terrible script and some big names who really try and make something out of it. As much as they try, though… One-and-a-half out of five stars.

Aloha is screening now in cinemas everywhere.

For more film reviews from a Christian perspective, connect with Reel Gospel on Facebook and Twitter.

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