Film Review – Finding ‘Ohana (2021)

Title – Finding ‘Ohana (2021)

Director – Jude Weng (feature debut)

Cast – Kea Peahu, Alex Aiono, Owen Vaccaro, Lindsay Watson, Kelly Hu

Plot – New York based siblings Pili (Peahu) and Ioane (Aiono) find their Summer in Hawaii taking a turn for the more adventurous when they discover a potential path to long to lost treasure that will take them on perilous journey.

“Please don’t kill your sister” 

Review by Eddie on 28/07/2021

Its been over 35 years since The Goonies first made a splash back in 1985 and in the time since the Steven Spielberg backed kids own adventure film made itself a favorite of many children of that era and the eras since, many other imitators have tried and mostly failed to try and capture the same magic that existed in the ageless classic.

There have been some wins in this space with Netflix’s hugely popular TV series Stranger Things arguably the closest we will ever get to Goonies like goodness of a ragtag group of kids/teenagers thrown into a rollicking world of intrigue, danger and adventure while J.J Abrams Super 8 also managed to do a fine job of being Goonies light but thoroughly entertaining but there have been many misses in this space also as films look to create their own world of mystery, suspense and fun with a focus on the child in all of us.

One of the most blatantly Goonies inspired films I recall seeing (it even features 80’s child star and Goonie member Ke Huy Quan in a supporting role!) , Netflix’s latest family oriented original Finding ‘Ohana wants badly to be the newest all-ages romp we all enjoy and features a set-up and location that seems tailor made for some fun and frenetic times but director Jude Weng’s try hard and forced film fails to inspire much in the way of magic as its tiresome story, terrible scripting and string of poor performances halts any chances it may’ve had of being in the same class as the 80’s classic.

Set in the picturesque islands of Lost aka Hawaii, ‘Ohana is a colorful and vibrant film in regards to its setting and locations but Weng’s film that is centered around young New Yorker Pili and her families move back to their home state of Hawaii where they discover the meaning of family and life on a quest for lost treasure to help save the families property is rather forced and uninspiring even if the messages the film is portraying are all unquestionably good ones.

Nothing in Weng’s film feels overly original or inspired, jokes fall flat around bland characters and juvenile scripting and budget set pieces constantly rear their ugly heads throughout, meaning keen eyed older viewers will be having a tough time getting immersed in Pili’s quest to strike it rich and learn the meaning of life with her siblings and friends.

You can sense there is a really strong film somewhere in ‘Ohana, the casting of native Hawaiians and the paradises jaw dropping surrounds gives the film a fresh vibe in certain aspects but nothing can excuse such poorly designed narrative movements, wooden acting and a lack of suspense or thrills, which ensures this wannabe family classic is one for the very young viewers only, not the child that lay inside us all.

Final Say – 

A tough film to enjoy despite its good intentions, this latest Netflix original is far from being a modern day Goonies and will have most viewers rolling their eyes rather than captivated by a supposedly fun-filled adventure.

1 1/2 broken phones out of 5 

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