Emma Stone and Bradley Cooper in Aloha.

Aloha has taken some flak ahead of its release, mainly due to the infamous Sony email hacking scandal which revealed the studio’s grim outlook for the film.

The romantic-comedy-drama written and directed by Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire) feels at its heart like a love letter to Hawaii, wrapped in a rom-com, wearing a lei. It’s enjoyable on the surface and doesn’t take itself too seriously, but a contrived narrative makes it difficult to invest in the central characters and their relationships.

Aloha feels at its heart like a love letter to Hawaii, wrapped in a rom-com, wearing a lei

The always delightful Emma Stone is pleasant to watch as the eager young fighter pilot tasked with babysitting Bradley Cooper’s disgraced military contractor. He is a mess of a man who has returned to Hawaii – the site of his previous career triumphs – looking for redemption.

With a cast as strong as Stone, Cooper, Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, Rachel McAdams and John Krasinski, it’s hard to imagine Aloha wouldn’t be a hit. Unfortunately the depth lacking in the characters and the script is only momentarily found in beautiful snippets of Hawaiian culture and legends – all too briefly showcased in a subplot that is lost among many competing subplots.

Cameron Crowe is a romantic, adept at penning offbeat films that sweep the audience into his universe where love conquers all. If you have a fondness for the director and the actors’ involved it will help with the enjoyment of Aloha, but it’s Hawaii that audiences will fall in love with.

Star rating: *** /5

In Australian cinemas, June 4

(Review first published in City Hub)

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