55 Thoughts We Had While Watching the Hallmark Channel Movie “You Had Me at Aloha”

Hallmark movie fans are dedicated movie fans. We know, we have a few on our staff. So, when the feel-good film channel slated a story filmed in Hawai‘i, we simultaneously cheered and cringed.



You Had Me At Aloha is a G-rated rom-com about a TV producer and former host (thanks to a traumatic experience with goats) who is reluctantly paired up with a risk-taking, script-abhorring partner. Laughs and romance ensues along with a few horrendous pronunciations of “aloha,” a cameo from a former UH football player and sweeping shots of the Kāhala Resort and Hotel. Misgivings are overcome. A misunderstanding almost derails the prospective couple. Good clean fun was had by all, in a very sanitized storyline.


We watched the Pascale Hutton and Cavan Smith movie in virtual watch parties with friends. Here are 55 thoughts we had while watching You Had Me At Aloha.


The Start


OMG. That’s a terrible opening to a fake TV show.


Wait a second, Belize looks a lot like Hālona Beach. You can’t fool this Hawai‘i Kai-an.


He didn’t actually jump. Duh. The waves would’ve slammed him against the rocks, and HFD would’ve been called, then the news would’ve reported another lolo visitor had to be rescued.


That jump is so fake. No one should ever do that. Ever. He’d probably drown. It’s a huge no no.


Dillingham Transportation Building sighting! Man, if we were working in the office we probably would have seen filming.


The producer is trying to pronounce Hawaiʻi correctly. I can appreciate that even if it still sounds weird.


The Kāhaaaala!


Great plug for the Kāhala Hotel. They must have shot when the hotel was closed. There’s like one person by the pool.


Fun camaraderie between the two supporting characters, sipping tropical drinks while waiting for the leads to return.


Tropical drink in a coconut? Cliché much?


Sigh again. Couldn’t they have looked like something enticing that we’d want to drink? Or at least refreshingly cold? They looked warm and oddly tinted.


Luis is a good character. Name is Valen Ahlo. He’s actually a videographer here. Next person: He’s good! He’s the only one having fun. 😁


Would it have killed them to make his character Hawaiian or Filipino or local to the Islands rather than being generically from nowhere?


What does “colorful local culture” even mean? Next person: They’re describing their clothes. 🙂


Their arguing is nails-on-a-chalkboard annoying.


Filmed in Hawai‘i and the first time in forever in a Hallmark movie where the lead characters don’t have an Asian sidekick!


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Characters Go Off-Roading


$5 says they rent a Mustang. Oops, it’s a Jeep!


They left Kāhala and ended up in Kualoa. In a matter of seconds. Wish I could teleport like that.


Kualoa is a gorgeous green. Seeing those ridges will never get old—unlike the hut reference they used.


Who comes to the ocean for a snorkel adventure with a full face of makeup?



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I feel like I’m living in a Tommy Bahama ad.


Apparently everything in Hawai‘i happens at Magic Island.


What farmers market here has snails?


Titanic moment on an island cruise. Cheesier than Chester Cheetah.


That local actor is Brad Kalilimoku, a UH football player who was in Finding ‘Ohana.  Good to see him!


Locals would not wear that tank top.


Oh boy, the directions are Mauka past two coconut trees? Barf. Also, I hate that his name is “Kokoa.” Is that a real name? Next person: Because it should be Kawika? Like the cab driver Leilani?


Why do the women wear fake plumerias in their hair? Not like there isn’t a plumeria tree on every corner of the island.


I do love seeing the drone shots of our gorge city. It’s a good reminder that we are lucky to live here.


Ohhhh! An Anthropologie dress. I almost bought that purplish/pink, ruffly dress. Looked better on Milly.


I know movies like to play up the Hawai‘i-ness, BUT not all tropical drinks come with orchids!


I miss having tea on the veranda at the Kāhala!


I don’t think they should use the word “bubble” until five years after COVID-19.


Who wears a collared shirt to “chill” at the beach?


Oh! Nolan!! He’s awesome. He used to work with us. But, what’s he wearing? He looks like Carlton (from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) on summer vacation.


NO ONE would dress like that. And the banner is hideous.



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Lū‘au Time


The obligatory lū‘au and fire dancer. I do love seeing the Tahitian dancers; I was always jealous of how they could shake it, sha-shake it.


We get that Tahitian dancing is lovely. But shooting in Hawai‘i would seem an opportunity to showcase hula. Just sayin’.


Bad fake orchid in Hutton’s hair.


I like the fire dancing. The lū‘au host’s lei is gorgeous.


Oh, the characters’ dancing is so bad. Next person: But that’s what happens at every lū‘au. So it’s accurate. First person: Sadly, yes.


Cheapest Hallmark movie. Everrrr. Mostly all of the scenes were shot at The Kāhala.


It’s sad that this “travel show” really didn’t go many places. Person two: But they got the FULL tour of Magic Island!


They’re ripping it on the UTVs. Last time I rode an ATV at Kualoa, I had to stay at a grandma speed limit.


OK, one bad wardrobe choice for Pascale. That shirt is so distracting. Next person: Sorry, I couldn’t hear you over that shirt.


There’s the North Shore shot! Uh, no. The path to the Waimea Valley waterfall is paved almost the entire way. Not so unbeaten path.


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They Get Each Other at the End


Are they really in Bali? Or Kualoa?


Of course, the guy showed up in the end. And they share a kiss on the cheek. Sooo risqué. Oh, oh, wait … he kissed her on the lips. Welcome to PG-13, Hallmark.


Prissiest last kiss ever.


The four main actors—Ben, Paige, Millie and Luis—were great together. I felt like Hawai‘i never truly got to shine as much as it could Also we love food so much here, I was really disappointed they didn’t show it more.


At least they didn’t do the scene where they taste poi and don’t like it.


At least they didn’t keep dropping in Hawaiian words and proceed to mangle them.


Overall assessment at our house? This Hallmark movie proved a pleasant way to decompress and not too cringeworthy (and we know we’re a tough crowd in our hometown).


It’d be so funny if people watched this and went, “You know where I REALLY want to go? Cliff diving in Belize looked amazing!”


Maybe this will encourage Hallmark to include a bigger budget for the next movies they are shooting here: better lighting, more culture AND fun chemistry.


Catch You Had Me at Aloha on the Hallmark Channel on Sunday, Aug. 1 at 9 a.m. HST. hallmarkchannel.com/you-had-me-at-aloha, @hallmarkchannel