comscore ‘Aloha’ opens amid swirl of controversy, approval | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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‘Aloha’ opens amid swirl of controversy, approval

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“Aloha,” the Cameron Crowe movie with an all-star cast led by Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper, has buzz and boos galore as it opened nationwide over the weekend. Guy Aoki, a former Big Island resident who is the watchdog and voice of the advocate group Media Action Network for Asian-Americans, fueled a controversy with his allegation that the Sony Pictures release is “whitewashing” Hawaii’s rich and diverse culture and people.

“Cameron Crowe spent years researching the ‘rich history’ of our state, yet he ended up hiring over

30 white actors and the 60 percent of the people who live here — the Asian/Pacific Islanders — were relegated to mostly small roles playing themselves (and) most don’t even have names,” Aoki said. “I’m thankful that (Dennis) “Bumpy” Kanahele is seen throughout the film and that the Hawaiian sovereignty movement is discussed, but the scene in the middle with the village of Hawaiians is mostly where you see the locals.”

Clearly, the setting is Hawaii and the military-themed plot involves Cooper’s character (a military contractor) who falls for a pilot (Emma Stone) as he reconnects with his ex (Rachel McAdams). That the film had issues (a December release was postponed till May) generally means the studio has a stinkeroo. If the studio felt it had a biggie lensed in Hawaii, there would commonly be a sponsored benefit screening to benefit a local charity. That did not happen. That’s the aloha that’s sorely lacking.

But the most telling review came from Amy Pascal, former head of Sony, who said in hacked emails that the script was “ridiculous” and the movie was a lost cause. Test audiences hated the film and Pascal noted: “Those with less education have been responding better to the movie.”

On social media, KSSK morning drive radio personality Michael W. Perry called those objecting to “Aloha” as “delicate flowers, so supportive and so victimized by this stuff. It’s a movie, for heaven’s sake.”

At least the film does it right in peripheral matters, embracing the shaka sign, using maile and head lei, and capturing the paradise that folks come here for. Oh, and Hawaii News Now’s Guy Hagi appears as a meteorologist, and musicians Ledward Kaapana and Mike Kaawa play themselves.

On Twitter, Crowe said the movie was “always a love letter,” though there seems to be more nays than yeas and scanty aloha for his film. …

THE LOCAL ANGLE: Did you see island surfer-flight attendant Grant McCartney completing the five stunts in Monday’s season premiere of  “American Ninja Warrior” on NBC? He made leaping and lunging look easy, qualifying for the next round of feats. …

Broadway actor Matthew Morrison, whose acting credits include “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center and “Glee” on Fox TV, is a frequent island visitor. He’s now starring in “Finding Neverland,” at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, and now that he’s married (the wedding was on Maui) to Hawaii model Renee Puente, she’s adapted to life in New York City. …

A bearded Matt Bomer, who co-starred in the first “Magic Mike” and will be seen again in the “Magic Mike XXL” sequel opening July 1, showed off his chiseled six-pack when he hit a Maui beach last week. He was solo that day, but was seen with his husband, Simon Hall, during a snorkeling outing earlier. His “White Collar” TV series, which ran six seasons on USA, is over, but Bomer will be in the remake of “The Magnificent Seven” along with the likes of Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington and Jason Momoa. …

HERE ’N’ THERE: Johnson Enos is taking his homegrown “Honu by the Sea” environmental musical to Washington, D.C.,  June 7 — the second visit for the cast. He said he’s very excited to be back at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History as it celebrates World Oceans Day, which is actually June 8. “Although the musical is based on a Hawaiian boy and sea creatures, the message to protect our oceans is universal,” he said. The cast also will perform at Walter Reed Medical Center. …

And that’s “Show Biz.” …


Wayne Harada is a veteran entertainment columnist; reach him at 266-0926 or; read his “Show and Tell Hawaii” blog at

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