Aloha night not be what you’re expecting—it has an indie, quirky feel and can be a little hard to follow at moments—but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its own things to offer. Ultimately, it’s a movie about second chances.
Brian’s work took him back to Hawaii where he ran into his ex-girlfriend and former co-workers, all the while he was facing new opportunities, at love and work. In order not to repeat his past mistakes, he had to face his past mistakes and learn from them. Brian was a sell-out. Rather than stand for conviction, for character, for integrity, for his fellow-man, he sold out and lost everything—his girlfriend, his work friends, his job, his sense of respect…all of it. But it’s quite possible he hadn’t really realized what he’d lost—because sometimes selling out pays well. Sometimes, when you sell your soul, it takes a while to fully know what you’ve done, because you’re so blinded by self-deception.
If he hadn’t realized the depths of what he’d lost before, he came face to face with it when he returned to Hawaii. The private company he was working with sent him to Hawaii to negotiate a deal with the local Hawaiian government. While there, he had to face his past face to face—not only in the people he ran into, but also in the choices he had to make. He was essentially given a do-over. He found a new girl and had to decide to run away or stay. He was again put in a morally compromising situation at work and had to decide to keep the boss happy and make money, or do the right thing and face some painful consequences. Probably, Brian would have done it all the same in the second round if it hadn’t been for the influence of two key women.
The first was his ex, Tracy. She forced him to talk with her, to face the past and get some closure. She lovingly confronted him on his mistakes. And in her, Brian had a chance to see what he was missing, what he had thrown away. He saw a beautiful family. He saw Tracy as a wife and a mother, and he saw the pain he had caused her. A pain he hadn’t hung around long enough to see.
To have only looked back though might have been painful if there hadn’t been a hope of a future. If he’d only seen what he missed out on, he might have been stuck in regrets. But, Brian had met someone new. The spunky Ng who was assigned to be his liaison with the military. Ng was an optimist. She was full of character and conviction, and she saw that, beneath “the freaking wreck of a guy” there was someone brilliant and commanding and amazing. She didn’t have rose colored glasses, mind you—she saw who he was, but she also saw who he could have been…and could still be.
Ng had that amazing ability to know how to both inspire and convict Brian. For the most part, she spoke to who he could be. She didn’t criticize, she just spoke to the good she saw in him, speaking it into existence. But she wasn’t afraid to mince words, to call him to a higher standard. When she saw that he was lying to everyone about his mission, she stood up to Brian and stood for her convictions, even when it meant losing him. She was a woman of character who wouldn’t be persuaded to compromise, not even for love. She was as fierce as she had been inspiring. Her fierceness came from a belief that he could be and should be better than that. And eventually, it paid off.
It seems as if Brian really had wanted to be a better man, but sometimes that’s hard. It’s particularly hard when you’ve already made a habit of compromise, and even worse when money and work and your future are on the line. Brian needed Ng. He needed her to see through the fog. He needed her to believe in himself. He needed her to give him a reason to be a better man.
I’m not much of a feminist in the common sense of the word, but if you look throughout history and throughout literature, it’s hard to deny the fact that women are incredible motivational forces for men. I think that is where we get much of our greatest value—not in our ability to compete with men, but in our ability to compliment men. We aren’t equal because we are the same, but because we provide a unique and very needed component to the world. Together, we make a great team. Brian was nothing before he met Ng. Maybe he’s the one who gets the credit for saving the day, but she gets the credit for saving him and for giving him courage and inspiration to save the day.
Questions for Discussion:
- How hard is it to redeem yourself after you’ve already sold out?
- How did Ng speak to the good in Brian, even when he didn’t believe it of himself?
- How powerful is it for you when someone speaks to the good in you?
- Which is easier, to criticize or to speak to the good?
- How did Ng inspire Brian to be a better person? How can you inspire others to be better people?
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29