Finding ‘Ohana (2021) – Netflix Movie Review

Goonie’Ohana & The Raiders Of The Lost Ark

There’s something timelessly endearing about a treasure hunt. From Indiana Jones, Uncharted and Treasure Island through to The Hardy Boys and Outer Banks, every medium has grabbed this idea by the scruff of the neck.

There’s a reason these stories work as well as they do and next up on the list of treasure hunts is Netflix’s Finding ‘Ohana. With a distinct familial vibe and a mixture of danger, light quips and treasure hunting, Ohana is a fun but formulaic adventure for the whole family.

Thrill-seeker Pili begins the movie with an exhilarating bike ride, a dazzling sequence that immediately introduces us to the world of geocaching, a modern-day outdoor treasure hunt. After winning the grand prize and with a big summer ahead of her, reality soon knocks Pili down from cloud 9.

Pili’s Mother Leilani breaks the news to her and her teenager sibling Ioane (simply nicknamed “E”) that their Grandfather Kimo has been taken ill and they need to head off to Hawaii.

Off they jet, to the rural tranquility of O’ahu; a far cry from the exciting summer in the big city both siblings envisioned. Of course, as true brother and sister the pair start fighting, something made worse by their Grandfather not exactly pleased by the help he’s receiving from Leilani and the others. To make matters worse, he’s faced with troubles with his own house too and is forced into making a difficult decision.

When Pili stumbles upon a journal hinting toward a long-lost Peruvian treasure, she begins to wonder whether this is the adventure she’s been craving all this time. And thus our story begins, as Pili is joined by goofy Casper and E finds himself awkwardly shedding his cool persona in the wake of love interest Hana arriving on the scene.

While this foursome eventually band together in search of a treasure that may or may not be hiding in Hawaii, Leilani tries to patch up her differences with Kimo while reconnecting the whole family to their Hawaiian heritage.

In terms of influences, the movie blends a lot of different ideas together and it’s certainly not shy about presenting those to the audience. There are numerous pop culture references dropped in ranging from Meghan Trainor and Lost through to Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park.

The result is something that doubles up as a real visual sightseeing treat, as gorgeously shot homages feel like you’re reliving through segments of those aforementioned titles. (Hey, that’s the scene Alan and the kids hid behind a log from a T-Rex!)

These sequences aren’t just placed for eye candy though, and there’s a wonderful series of visual throwbacks that recreate the original story Pili is so obsessed with. Using a coloured lens and some creative costumes, these segments offer a fun way to break things up, while each of the obstacles the kids face are actually smartly written with clever educational quips. I think it’s fair to say many of us won’t be going in search of Brown Violin spiders any time soon!

Of course, this story is not going to win any awards and there’s a not lot here that hasn’t been done before elsewhere. But that hardly matters in truth.

Netflix movie Finding ‘Ohana is a fun, lively romp that plays with the conventions of this genre nicely, paying homage to plenty of big and small screen classics along the way. This one delivers just enough treasure at the end to make the hunt worth sticking with.

  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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