Directed by Cameron Crowe  
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, Bill Murray
Rated PG-13 for some language and some suggestive comments     
1 hr. 45 min.

Wes Anderson. Tim Burton. John Hughes. These are directors that make very specific types of quality movies. And Cameron Crowe is no different from his fellow auteurs. Take some attractive people, a unique setting, some witty banter and a killer soundtrack, and there you have it. What sets Crowe apart is the fact that this could cause his films to be formulaic, and yet each is different and interesting in its own way. Aloha is the latest, and best (sorry, Almost Famous) of his offerings.

When a renowned military contractor (Bradley Cooper) returns to the Hawaiian Islands, the site of his greatest career triumph, he re-connects with long lost lover (Rachel McAdams) and unexpectedly falls for the tough-as-nails U.S. Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone) assigned to him. But while he has much love for the locals, it’s unclear whether the company he is freelancing for is legitimately trying to do good or is up to nefarious activities.

Aloha is a star-studded, compelling, yet understated drama of the highest level. The chemistry between the three lead roles is undeniable. Writer/director Crowe has provided a marvelously profound and multilayered character study that vividly demonstrates the difference between how certain factions view our planet, and how some cultures still respect Mother Earth.

Much like the plot, this picture walks in two worlds. It is very much about the three main characters and their interactions with each other, yet it feels almost like an ensemble piece. With the supporting characters being played by such heavy hitters as Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, Danny McBride and John Krasinski, every scene feels real. The people involved in making this movie have managed to give the audience a story that is heartbreaking and heartwarming, important and yet not heavy-handed.

It also introduces moviegoers to the rich culture of the Hawaiian people, one of the few ways of life that has survived in the modern age, especially in America. The son of Rachel McAdams’ character spends the film peppering in explanations as to the role of the Polynesian gods as it plays into the arrival of Bradley Cooper’s character on the island, plus Stone’s and Cooper’s characters have much knowledge of their own. What makes this special is that it is organically injected into the film, and not obviously just thrown in.

This film is a treasure and an absolute delight. It is rare that a film can balance both elation and contemplation. See it in theaters as the vast, vibrant cinematography is well worth the big-screen experience. It is a film that will make you think, feel and be sad to say aloha to Aloha.