Finding Ohana (2021) Review

A cool little treasure hunting story, a little amateur on the acting front but nothing too horrific.

Certificate: PG

Director: Jude Weng

Screenwriter: Christina Strain

Starring: Kelly Hu, Ke Huy Quan, Chris Parnell

Genre: Action, Adventure

Runtime: 125 Minutes

Language: English

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

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A summer in rural O‘ahu takes an exciting turn for two Brooklyn-raised siblings when a journal pointing to long-lost treasure sets them on an epic adventure with new friends, and leads them to reconnect with their Hawaiian heritage.

I am not sure what I expected from this film, but it sure wasn’t what I got.  Not in a bad way, this film just took a few unexpected turns and made some interesting narrative choices.  In particular there was a strange change of tone in the third act that, while wonderfully cathartic and emotional for our characters, did seem to come out of absolutely nowhere. 

At it’s heart this film is what National Treasure, or Indiana Jones would have been if it had been made for kids.  Corny dialogue, elaborate traps, rickety rope bridges and of course, a hidden, buried treasure.  There is plenty here that a kid will love, and if as adults you are a fan of those ‘Treasure Hunter’ type films, then there are enough call backs here to keep you entertained as well.

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At times both the acting and the writing did seem a little amateurish.  Some of the dialogue is down right cringey, and while I do love a good pop culture reference every now and again, this film throws around way too many of them and in time, it will date the film considerably.  All the acting was competent, and none of the performances were bad exactly, but you could definitely tell that a lot of the younger actors are unexperienced.  But it is likely to only be adults that will pick up on that, so don’t let that effect your decision to watch the film too harshly.

The flashbacks scenes with the pirates were some of the best scenes in the film, narrated via voice over by the kids, we get to see pirates both be and sound quite…unpirate-like.  Remember those scenes in Ant Man where Luis is telling a story and he tells it all in his own words, it is a very similar thing, and just as funny if not funnier. 

I am a little disappointed that we didn’t get more time on the mum’s story line.  Her relationship with her father and the bridges they were trying to mend made for a really touching and emotional side-plot and I would like to have seen more of it, but again, kids are the target audience, and the emotional dramas of the grown-ups in the film would not be as intriguing to them as the action packed treasure hunt, so disappointing? Yes.  But a good decision for the type of film they were making.

A pretty entertaining watch, it would be a great family movie night pick.

‘Finding Ohana’ is streaming now on Netflix.

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