Tag Archives: John Krasinski

Aloha (2015)

aloha

It’s so unfortunate that Aloha, the new Cameron Crowe film, will forever be remembered for its supposed “whitewashing” and controversial casting of Emma Stone as a quarter-Hawaiian character. Because what it should really be remembered for is being a shit movie.

Truth be told, I was ready to play devil’s advocate. I had planned to be the guy to tell everyone to lay off this film. Seriously, all that furore over the lack of Hawaiians and the casting. Who gives a shit? It’s Crowe’s movie. It’s his prerogative to focus on whatever characters he wants, cast whoever he wants. Why can’t a film based in Hawaii focus on white characters? Are there no white people in Hawaii? Are there no white soldiers based there? Why must he tell the story you think he should tell rather than the story he wants to tell? Call it bad casting or writing, but don’t make it political. It would be a different story if the film was based on true events, but it’s not, so what’s the big deal?

To be fair, Stone’s character might have attracted less attention had she not been blonde and her surname not been “Ng”. It may have been wiser to make her say one-eighth or even one-sixteenth Hawaiian, or change the last name to something more Anglo. But you’re telling me there are no blonde quarter-Hawaiians in this world? Or that there are no blonde Ngs on this planet? (Apparently the character was based on a real-life red-head). Don’t shit on the movie because of that — not when there are so many other things you should be shitting on the movie for.

Let’s start with the premise. Bradley Cooper is Brian Gilcrest, a disillusioned, cynical former soldier who has become a contractor for a billionaire played by Bill Murray. Gilcrest goes to Hawaii to help negotiate a deal with a Hawaiian king to support the launch of a private satellite, and while there, he meets young and naive pilot Allison Ng (Stone) and bumps into his ex-girlfriend Tracy (Rachel McAdams), who is now married to Woody (John Krasinski) and has two kids.

If that sounds boring to you, that’s because it is. Crowe’s got some interesting ideas on his CV, such as Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, We Bought a Zoo, but Aloha is not one of them. The film never seems to be able to settle on a proper focus, drifting around aimlessly between Gilcrest’s work and his relationships with Ng and Tracy. The problem is, none of those three things are compelling. They’re either uninteresting, cliched or predictable. Crowe is usually pretty good tricking audiences into falling for sentimentality, though in this case I thought all the tactics were far too obvious.

To make matters worse, none of the characters are charismatic, which is an amazing feat given that it stars three of the most charismatic actors around today in Cooper, Stone and McAdams. Gilcrest just seems blase all the time, while Ng is overly enthusiastic about everything, to the extent that her character feels contrived. Tracy isn’t very sympathetic either, and Woody only has a few scenes to provide comedic relief.

Speaking of which, though the film is promoted as a comedy-drama, Aloha is almost completely devoid of laughs. I can’t think of a single joke in the film apart from one very strange scene towards the end, though it is so different in tone to the rest of the film that it just becomes jarring.

I suppose Crowe was aiming for a Hawaiian-themed film similar to Alexander Payne’s 2011 effort The Descendants (the one with George Clooney and Shailene Woodley). That one was also a laid back drama with familial themes, but it was also much better crafted and a lot funnier. Aloha, on the other hand, is all over the place, with a dull premise, poor storytelling and characters not worth caring for. I kept wondering how such a simple story could be such a struggle to follow, and then I realised it was because I simply didn’t care enough. Even without the controversy, Aloha is a real mess, one that even its talented cast could not salvage.

1.75 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Something Borrowed (2011)

National Release Date: 5 May 2011

Something Borrowed has a specific target audience in mind, and that target audience doesn’t include me.  After all, it is based on the bestselling chick lit novel (by Emily Griffin) and stars Kate Hudson, who I simply don’t like for reasons I don’t really understand.

Something Borrowed is an apt title, I suppose, because it borrows freely from other chick lit and chick flicks.  Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin from She’s Just Not That Into You — is it just me or has she lost a lot of weight?) is a thirty-year old single woman who is a quiet sidekick to her wild best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson), and is secretly in love with said friend’s fiance Dex (Colin Egglesfield), who was once her potential suitor and may have feelings for her too.

That’s all I’ll say but I imagine you can guess the rest.  Angst, heartache, heartbreak, loyalty, betrayal, friendship, love lost and love won — you get the gist.  It’s categorised as a rom-com but the humour is light and typical.  I wouldn’t call it completely predictable but there was definitely a sense of inevitability to the whole thing, which was all very formulaic.

There were good reasons for me to like the film.  Rachel is a lawyer (my old world) and her long-time confidant Ethan (John Krasinki) is a writer (my new world).  It’s a film about something I can appreciate — competing desires — what you want against what others think is right.  But I just couldn’t get into it, and I doubt the rest of the almost entirely male reviewer audience could either.

To be fair, I am a fan of Ginnifer Goodwin, who seems to be making a habit of being the lead actress without getting top billing (she was really the central character of He’s Just Not That Into You and dominates this film from start to finish).  She gives a stellar performance and is likable as the torn Rachel.  And as much as I hate to say it, Kate Hudson was pretty good too (but it doesn’t change the way I feel about her).  As for the male cast, John Krasinki was solid, bringing his comedic presence from The Office along with him, but Colin Egglesfield was horrible.  A fine looking man, but he failed to bring out a character that could have and should have been so much more.

Ultimately, the target audience may very well enjoy Something Borrowed.  Modern fairytalesque love triangle, (very) light humour, pretty stars and a cookie-cutter plot with an ending that’s too neatly wrapped for my liking (though for a film of this kind it’s not too bad).  I just wish it was more engrossing, had more laughs, and had more likable characters.  Was that too much to ask?

2 stars out of 5

Movie Review: It’s Complicated (2009)

It’s Complicated is actually relatively simple: a woman, her ex-husband, and the new guy in her life.

It’s directed by Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday and What Women Want), so you have a fair idea of what to expect (don’t worry, I almost vomited too).  Mature, romantic, lightly comedic and more seriously dramatic than it should be.  Ultimately, a decent film but not a great one.

What makes It’s Complicated better than I expected is the excellent cast.  People are going to have their opinions on Meryl Streep, but I think the woman is capable of anything.  Seriously, she could probably play Neo better than Keanu in The Matrix, or the Wolf better than Jason Bateman in Teen Wolf Too.  She’s that good, and her performance as Jane is no exception.

Interestingly, Jane is also a fantastic cook.  Streep already played Julia Child in Julie & Julia, and now she gives us more food porn to make us hungry in It’s Complicated.  Not that I am complaining.  The delightful food is definitely more enticing than the old people sex that we have to put up with.  Though to Meyer’s (and Streep’s) credit, that aspect of the film was nowhere near as bad as I imagined it would be.

Alec Baldwin is also terrific as the ex-husband.  He surprised me, actually, because although Jake should be a hated character, Baldwin’s charm manages to make him endearing.  The best actor of the Baldwin brothers, for sure.

Steve Martin, on the other hand, looked…weird.  Is he getting botox injections or plugs or both?  I wouldn’t let someone that looks like that (with a creepy smile to boot) near my kids (in the event that I ever have any).  But apart from that, he was great.  A subtle, controlled performance as Adam, the other guy.

It was also good to see Hunter Parrish (Silas from Weeds) in there, even though he played the pansy son who didn’t really do anything.  Oh, and John Krasinski (from the American version of The Office) as Harley, the future son-in-law, provided the best laughs.

Speaking of laughs, there weren’t that many.  That’s my main gripe with It’s Complicated.  There were plenty of amusing lines, but few were laugh-out-loud funny.  In addition, most of the best jokes were already spoiled by the advertisements which I accidentally came across (at a time I didn’t think I’d end up seeing the film).  Don’t you hate it when that happens?

When all said and done, It’s Complicated was kind of enjoyable.  Interesting premise, amusing, and both lighthearted and serious, but nothing special.  I can see young people struggling with this one given how “adult” it is, but the oldies should love it.

3 stars out of 5