Move over Lilo, Stitch, and Moana, the Netflix Original movie, Finding ‘Ohana doubles down on the spirit of Hawaii, culture, adventure, and so much more. Directed by Jude Weng (Black-ish/The Good Place) and written by Christiana Strain (The Magicians), Finding ‘Ohana tells the story of two mainlander Hawaiian kids, Pili (Kea Peahu) and Ioane, aka E, (Alex Aiono) whose mother makes them summer with their grandfather in rural O’ahu – which is a huge change from their Brooklyn roots. While on the island, the kids go on a Goonies-esq adventure with new friends, while reconnecting with family and their Hawaiian heritage.
I really enjoyed Finding ‘Ohana. Not only did I get to go on a pirate treasure hunt adventure exploring the majestic island of Hawaii, but I learned so much about the culture without it feeling heavy-handed. I appreciate that writer Christina Strain didn’t try and reinvent the child adventure wheel, but instead embraced it, forging on creating her own entertaining fantasy adventure, while giving full recognition to the ones that came before.
The Comedy Lightens Up The Piece A Lot
Using a Drunk History-ish storytelling recreation was inspired and hilarious. Bringing to life these comedic gems are Chris Parnell (SNL/Grown-ish) and Marc Evan Jackson (The Good Place) dawned with eyepatches, wonky wigs, while spitting out modern slang like “That’s lit!” and “Oh, dip!” is comedy gold. Then watching Pili and friends fall through lava tubes, cross rope bridges, swim through bioluminescence, and even try and best a terrifying spider while finding pirate skeletons along the way gave me huge Goonies and Indiana Jones vibes, and I was here for it!
I also loved hearing Kelly Hu and Branscombe Richmond speak the native Hawaiian tongue multiple times throughout the film, as well as seeing Pili and Ioane’s relationship strengthen while learning about their heritage through their new local friends.
Entertaining, But A Little Long
The film does run long, almost hitting the 2hr mark, and I feel it could’ve lost about 15 mins. That being said, I was entertained, educated, and can’t wait to vacation in Hawaii. If you’re looking for a fun, entertaining family movie to watch this weekend make sure to put Finding ‘Ohana in your queue.