I promise you, no one was more excited to see this movie than I was. Cameron Crowe is a gifted screenwriter, and Emma Stone and Bradley Cooper promised to light up the screen. Then, factor in a supporting cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray and John Krasinski, and how could you go wrong? Somehow, they managed.
Bradley Cooper plays Brian, a damaged military contractor returning to Hawaii to regroup after some devastating setbacks. There, he is assigned the all-too-spunky Allison Ng (Stone) as his handler. Also living on the island Brian's ex, Tracy (Rachel McAdams), with her new husband, Brian's friend, Woody (Krasinski). With his attraction to Allison and his unresolved situation with Tracy, it's a wonder Brian can even manage to handle his rather dicey military assignment. Add to that, political and ethical drama, and you really have a lot to digest in 105 minutes.
The real problem here is that the film tries to do too much. It's Dances with Wolves meets Kramer vs. Kramer meets The Hurt Locker meets The Descendants. That confusion is complicated by the fact that Stone and Cooper have the spark of a wet match; it's almost hard to imagine two such physically complementary people fizzling like that, oh well. (Plus, there's the somewhat controversial concept that Stone's character is supposed to be one-quarter Hawaiian--and no one's buying it.) The film is a valiant effort, with flashes of wit and intelligence; but overall, the film takes on too much and accomplishes little. It's a 5.