April 21, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Review: ‘Finding ‘Ohana’ channels ‘Goonies’ in a fun if overstuffed trip

Family adventure “Finding ‘Ohana” loots gleefully — but respectfully — from its predecessors. The action-comedy name-checks the “Indiana Jones” series, references “The Goonies” in both direct quotes and shots and even casts Ke Huy Quan (a.k.a. Short Round and Data) in a supporting role. But while its beats are familiar, TV director Jude Weng’s debut feature diverges from its well-worn path when it matters, staying true to its heart and love of Hawaiian culture.

Young geocaching queen Pili (Kea Peahu) worries her summer is ruined when her mother (Kelly Hu) uproots her and her teenage brother, Ioane (YouTuber Alex Aiono), from Brooklyn back to Hawaii to help the kids’ grandfather (Branscombe Richmond) after he has a heart attack and is in danger of losing his house. Then 12-year-old Pili finds a pirate’s journal, and her treasure-hunting skills are put to the test when she sneaks out in search of Spanish gold. Accompanied by her scaredy-cat brother, his crush Hana (Lindsay Watson) and new friend Casper (Owen Vaccaro), Pili braves a mountain cave filled with booby traps and dusty skeletons, all so she can save her family’s home.

Written by Christina Strain, “Finding ‘Ohana” is a fun trip, but it’s as overstuffed as an amateur adventurer’s daypack, testing young — and grownup — attention spans with its two-hours-plus runtime. There’s some overacting and some singing that can only be explained by the casting of Aiono, but Weng’s film is nothing if not earnest in its love of family (‘ohana) and Hawaii. If kids can hang in for the longer ride, they’ll finish the film with a stronger affection for their loved ones — and an intense desire to visit the islands, shot so beautifully here.

‘Finding ’Ohana’

In English and Hawaiian with English subtitles

Rating: PG, for language, crude references, adventure action and some suggestive comments

Running time: 2 hour, 3 minutes

Playing: Available on Netflix