Aloha Is the Jupiter Ascending Of the Art House Set

Sit down, Jupiter Ascending fans. I do not mean that in a good way. I mean it in a “God damn, what a mess of a movie” way.

Do the trailers for Aloha make it look like it’s about Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone smooshing their faces together? It is about that. It is also about Hawaiian mythology and the changing face of the military and, oddly, the privatization of space exploration. Yeah, I know. Aloha‘s opening montage equates the history of space exploration with the history of Hawaii, and still, after watching the entire movie, I do not understand why. (Is it just because of the military-Hawaii connection?) I want to sit down with Cameron Crowe and ask him what the fuck movie he was making, because I honestly don’t know. I’m not sure if he knows.

The performances are solid across the board–Aloha does have an amazing cast going for it, including Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray, and Rachel McAdams on top of Cooper and Stone–but the characters themselves are whirling dervishes of eccentricities and exaggerated mannerisms that are impossible to feel any emotional connection withi. Plucky, fast-talking Emma Stone swears that she will out-Manic Pixie Dream Girl every Manic Pixie Dream Girl who has come before her. Her character also–as the script tells us many times–is 1/4 Hawaiian… which makes up for the cast being so white and the uncomfortable exoticism inherent in the sole scene where we get to know native Hawaiian characters being all about how ~spiritual~ and ~connected with nature~ they all are? I guess?

Wait. I’m getting that that doesn’t actually make up for it. That it’s actually still weird. If your female lead is a Hawaiian whose last name is Ng, maybe… don’t cast a white person? Unless you’re trying to make a point about cultural appropriation in the first place, and how it’s… cute? How Emma Stone is really, really cute? I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going on here at all.

  • There’s a subplot about Hawaiian mythology that’s dropped three-quarters of the way through.
  • We’re essentially looking at a Manic Pixie Dream Culture situation.
  • Edi Gathegi is in the opening credits, but not in the film. I guess his contract stipulated that he be in the opening credits even if his scenes were cut? It still bugs me. Where are you, Edi?
  • Bradley Cooper spends the whole movie talking about how ~damaged~ he is. (“I lone wolfed it all the way. That’s who I am.” Fuck. Off.)

It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in some real slapdash screenwriting. AMY PASCAL WAS RIGHT.

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