Review: 'Finding 'Ohana'

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Posted: Feb 05, 2021 3:45 PM
Review: 'Finding 'Ohana'

Source: Production Still/Netflix

If you liked "The Goonies," you'll want to head over to Netflix for a new treat. "Finding 'Ohana" is being described as a modern take on the 1980s classic. In fact, the actor Ke Huy Quan, who played Data in "Goonies," plays a small role in "'Ohana," which is directed by Jude Weng. Like the likable cast of the '80s, the young cast of "Finding 'Ohana" is still searching for treasure, but this time their adventure is in Hawaii.

We first meet the characters in Brooklyn, NY, where we learn that the protagonist Pili is different from most young girls her age because she's obsessed with Geocaching, a treasure hunting game. That hobby sticks with her when her mom takes her and her brother Ioane, who prefers to be called "E" to Hawaii to visit their grandfather, who's on the verge of losing his house thanks to some financial struggles. Almost as soon as they land Pili starts searching for a new adventure.

It's a bit of a sluggish start and for the first half-hour, I wasn't too invested in the characters. But once the adventure really begins, their personalities begin to shine. Along with Pili, played by the charismatic newcomer Kea Peahu, there's Casper (Owen Vaccaro), the precocious redhead, Ioane (Alex Aiono), Pili's bratty older brother, and Hana (Lindsay Watson), the pretty and strong-headed love interest of that bratty older brother. 

Pili's quest to find a long lost treasure brings her and her friends to Kualoa Mountain. And once the four of them fall into a cave, the film really starts to liven up. The four of them play off each other in entertaining ways as they work to overcome the cave's surprises. At times the movie is very silly, but that's part of its charm.

I won't tell you if the kids find the treasure, but I will tell you it doesn't end how you think it does.  

The film, which features a predominantly Hawaiian cast, also sprinkles in some meaningful references to Hawaiian culture and raises some important questions. For instance, Pili and Casper wonder in one scene, why do some tourists come to beautiful Hawaii just to see where the TV show "Lost" was filmed?

The acting is to be desired at times, but who really watches these kinds of adventure films for the acting? It's a fun film with some great messages.

If nothing else, you'll have a blast. And you'll learn about the beautiful state and the people of Hawaii.

"Finding 'Ohana" is streaming now on Netflix.